US consumer firm Jacoby & Meyers sets out plans for UK ABS

US consumer firm Jacoby & Meyers has enlisted the help of private equity boutique MJ Hudson to move into the UK market, with plans to acquire similar firms in the UK and Europe under an ABS banner.

Jacoby & Meyers and MJ Hudson have formed a joint venture, Jacoby & Meyers Europe, which will look for acquisition opportunities. Both firms are investing in the joint venture, which is likely to seek an ABS licence.

Jacoby & Meyers has offices across the US, advising consumers on issues such as personal injury, medical negligence and road traffic accidents. Last year the firm acquired bankruptcy firm Macey Bankruptcy. It claims to be the US’s largest consumer firm.

MJ Hudson managing partner Eamon Devlin told The Lawyer that the move was not a merger. “We’re setting up an entity to help provide consumer services in the UK. Our focus hasn’t changed – they’re trying to bring their business to the UK. We want to show we’re an innovative firm,” he said.

MJ Hudson was launched by former SJ Berwin private equity partner Matthew Hudson three years ago (22 July 2010). It focuses on corporate and investment funds law.

Jacoby & Meyers has led efforts to allow non-lawyer investment in law firms in the US, filing lawsuits in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut challenging state regulations. Founding partner Len Jacoby said in a statement that the firm wanted to expand its services in lower and middle-income communities.

“Our ability to raise the capital necessary to serve the public is severely restricted in the US by an outdated rule of professional conduct. Now a significant part of our growth strategy will be based in London,” Jacoby said.

Hudson added in a statement that the joint venture intended to “power” Jacoby & Meyers to a position as a global leader in consumer law.

The move is similar to Australian listed firm Slater & Gordon’s move into the UK through the acquisition of Russell Jones & Walker last year (30 January 2012). Although the firm has a strong commercial litigation and business law team it is heavily focused on personal injury. Slater & Gordon has since announced further expansion, bolting on Simpson Millar, Goodmans Law and the personal injury practice of Taylor Vinters (7 May 2013).