Firm profile: Forum Law

Most of the big claimant personal injury (PI) firms have “fallen asleep at the wheel”, claims Jeff Zindani, managing director of Forum Law. “They’ve remained static while the market has changed fundamentally, both in terms of what consumers want from their lawyers and the costs base,” he adds.

Managing director:Jeff Zindani
Turnover: £400,000
Total number of staff: 10, including Zindani, comprising one assistant solicitor, five litigation executives and three support staff
Main practice areas: Clinical negligence, employment and personal injury
Key clients: Trade unions, including the Police Federation, and a number of smaller trade unions, including a building society staff union; legal expense insurers, such as Capita; and individuals.
Number of offices: One
Location: Solihull

Most of the big claimant personal injury (PI) firms have “fallen asleep at the wheel”, claims Jeff Zindani, managing director of Forum Law. “They’ve remained static while the market has changed fundamentally, both in terms of what consumers want from their lawyers and the costs base,” he adds.

Zindani formerly ran the Birmingham office of Russell Jones & Walker before setting up his firm three years ago. Forum Law operates as a limited company. According to Zindani, the rationale for setting up a limited company was to develop “a corporate culture away from the traditional partnership structure”, giving the firm more flexibility to take advantage of post-Clementi deregulation in the future. He believes that the days of firms with traditional partnership structures and “poor gearing” are coming to an end. “It will just take time for adjustments to be made so that the old guard of equity partners can be removed,” he says. “Let’s face it, why do you need a partnership structure anymore to run a modern PI practice?”

The firm is moving into a new office development in Solihull next year as part of its expansion plans. It reported a £400,000-plus turnover last year with a 34 per cent profit margin. Zindani anticipates a 50 per cent projected increase in turnover for the following year and, by 2007, expects that to exceed £1m. The firm’s client base includes trade unions, such as the Police Federation, as well as a number of smaller unions, including a building society staff union. The firm also acts for legal expense insurers and is a panel firm for Capita, undertaking work nationally on PI and employment matters. In terms of individual clients, last year it advised on a £3.2m settlement for a brain-damaged child and issued proceedings against Steven Seagal on behalf of an actor who claimed he was beaten up on set.

“It’s ironic that smaller practices can have a competitive edge due to the lower cost of modern technology, which would have been impossible just a few years ago,” says Zindani. The firm has spent almost £100,000 on an integrated case management system, which means it has “an almost paperless office”. Clients can track the progress of their cases online. Zindani claims that Forum Law can process cases “faster and more efficiently” than the larger PI practices. “When a client calls Forum Law, a screen pull-up shows the correspondence and history instead of ’we will get your file out and call you back’,” he says.

“If we look ahead to the big bang in 2007, when Clementi on alternative business structures is implemented, there will be a slow death of the large PI firms, which have failed to ensure that they’ve developed strategic alliances with suppliers, including trade unions and legal expenses insurers,” says Zindani.

Jon Robins