Signs are that DAC Beachcroft is leaning towards a corporate strategy
While some firms are ploughing ahead with alternative business structure (ABS) conversion, others are still considering their options.
DAC Beachcroft is hardly a firm to act off-the-cuff, with managing partner Paul Murray and senior partner Simon Hodson driving innovation in conservative fashion.
The firm has been open about the fact it is considering opportunities under the Legal Services Act, but insiders say it is taking its time. Nevertheless, it would not be surprising to see it adopt a corporate structure to underpin efforts to commoditise its practices.
Its strategy is not dissimilar to that of RJW five years ago after its takeover of Claims Direct – pick off low-value cases that can be disposed of easily, refer more complex ones up the chain and leave partners to serve key clients.
For DAC Beachcroft, the first step is to define what commoditisation means to it, and how this would fit with its core practices of insurance, healthcare and real estate.
When the firms merged in November the plan was for litigation chief Trevor Chamberlain to work with claims solutions head Duncan Rutter to develop the processed service for domestic clients, with a view to taking it international.
“The value clients subscribe to legal services is coming down,” Murray told The Lawyer at the time.
Recent hires provide further insight, with the appointment of Zurich Financial Services’ European claims director Bill Paton to run the claims group.
At Zurich, Paton was one of Beachcroft’s top clients, with insurer and firm working together to lobby for reform of the conditional fee structure. DAC Beachcroft partner Andrew Parker advised Lord Justice Jackson on his impending reforms while Zurich lobbied the Ministry of Justice. His influence at DAC Beachcroft will be palpable, leading the insurer’s aim to drive down claims costs by streamlining processes.
For any ABS conversion, DAC Beachcroft will have to wait until after Paton’s arrival in October. He has not been appointed as a partner, which could signal the firm’s intention to adopt a corporate strategy.