Irwin Mitchell is to convert to an alternative business structure (ABS) when the Legal Services Act (LSA) is implemented to enable it to raise tens of millions of pounds either through floatation or external investment.
The firm has turned to Espirito Santo Investment Bank to advise it on opportunities for outside investment. All options are up for consideration, with the aim being to raise a war chest to fund future growth.
Managing partner John Pickering said: “Conversion to an ABS will broaden our access to capital and enhance our funding flexibility as we execute our strategic growth plan, while ensuring that we can continue to provide the very highest standards of service to our clients.”
In preparation for the conversion Irwin Mitchell is to restructure into a two-tier business, with the creation of a corporate vehicle. The firm will continue to operate as a limited liability partnership (LLP) and the new holding company is intended to become the controlling member of the LLP.
Under the terms of the LSA firms can established parent companies to allow them to operate an umbrella structure. This will enable separate business streams to be managed in silo.
Irwin Mitchell has a strong personal injury base and in recent years has invested in its affinity business to build up branded consumer focused products. This has been part of a long-term strategy to build up a series of branded goods that could be offered to the consumer market (12 November 2007).
In March last year the firm signed a deal with the Daily Telegraph that enabled it to offer legal services to the national newspaper’s readers (22 March 2010).
Irwin Mitchell has also made no secret of plans to grows its City practice, making several high-profile appointments over the last financial year. In September the firm hit SJ Berwin for a four-partner real estate team, including practice head Jon Vivian (27 September 2010).
In March the firm further bolstered the practice with the hire of Pinsent Masons partner Tom Flannagan as its employment chief (7 March 2011).
Irwin Mitchell has long been considering taking advantage of the LSA when it comes into force. The firm’s senior partner Michael Napier was a keen advocate of the act and publicly urged the former government to push it through parliament.
In 2007, he told the Financial Times: “We just want the opportunities to be made available as soon as possible, so we can decide what we want to take advantage of and what we don’t.”
Pickering echoed those sentiments today, stating: “The Legal Services Act will create exciting growth opportunities for strong, well-financed legal services businesses to accelerate their growth plans.
“Irwin Mitchell intends to be at the forefront of these changes and we have therefore taken the decision to seek external investment to further our ambitious plans for the business.”