LawVest shows £3.2m operating loss in first year

LawVest, the startup launched last year with financial backing from DLA Piper, claimed it is bracing itself for a “dramatic increase” in sales this year after accounts revealed a £3.2m loss during its first 16 months of trading.

The LawVest accounts show that it posted turnover of £170,036 between February 2011, when the business launched, and September 2012. This ran against total costs of £3.2m, with £1.2m spent on sales and marketing; £1.7m spent on administrative expenses; and £431,986 spent on cost of sales.

Chief executive Karl Chapman said the “inevitable” loss was expected given that the business started from stratch just two-years ago. “We estimated to invest around £10m in the business, but due to sales growing much quicker than expected, and contracts coming from much larger businesses, we expect this number to reduce to around £7m,” he said.

Chapman told The Lawyer that expectations were that LawVest, the parent company of fixed-fee entities Riverview Chambers and Riverview Solicitors, would see a “dramatic increase in sales” and while losses would reduce over the next 12 months. He also has ambitions to dramatically increase headcount during the same time period.

LawVest’s shareholders include DLA Piper and AdviserPlus, a provider of outsourced HR, employment and health and safety advice.

Recent LLP accounts detail DLA Piper’s holding in LawVest (4 February 2013). The filings show that DLA Piper UK LLP holds 62,500 £1 ordinary shares in LawVest and during the financial year board members Sir Nigel Knowles and Sean Mahon acquired 2,566 and 1,666 £1 ordinary shares each.

Chapman, meanwhile, is understood to hold 22,473 shares in the business.

News that DLA Piper’s co-chief executive Knowles and a small number of other partners and staff had a personal stake in LawVest – the parent company of fixed-fee chambers Riverview – provoked outrage in pockets of the firm’s partnership, who felt they had been kept in the dark about the arrangement (27 February 2012).