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Winner: Schillings

Schillings takes the first-ever ABS of the Year title for taking the bold step of obtaining two ABS licences in pursuit of its new vision as a multi-disciplinary reputation-management and privacy consultancy for corporations and high net-worth individuals.

The firm has been decisive in grasping the opportunities presented by corporates’ increased interest in risk and cyber security to build a client base where 80 per cent of revenue is derived from large private and publicly listed businesses.

Not only is Schillings now acting for about a fifth of the FTSE 100, but the firm also saw the fruits of its labour pay off with a 30 per cent increase in revenue last year.

The firm’s client wins and cases have included the biggest stars of both the corporate and celebrity worlds over the past year.

Senior partner Keith Schilling and privacy and defamation partner Jenny Afia are longstanding advisers to writer JK Rowling. The duo represented Rowling last summer in her well-publicised battle against Russells partner Christopher Gossage and his wife’s best friend Judith Callegari, when it emerged the two had revealed she had written a book under a pseudonym.

The firm also advised several publicly listed companies including Bupa, the London Stock Exchange and Centrica on various media issues.

The judges were impressed by the firm’s integrated approach to risk consulting and legal advice but also drew particular attention to Schillings’ partner assessment programme. One judge called the programme “excellent”, saying it “provides transparency and accountability to benefit all employees”.

About Thomson Reuters

Legal professionals around the world trust Thomson Reuters to help them perform at their best. We’re delighted in turn to sponsor two awards which recognise excellence in key areas of the industry.

In-House Lawyer of the Year celebrates the achievements of in-house lawyers in enhancing their companies’ performance, innovating and influencing strategy, while ABS of the Year supports new entrants into the market that are thinking differently about legal services.

Performance and innovation are two values at the heart of everything we do at Thomson Reuters. Our best-of-class legal solutions combine unrivalled content, expertise and technologies to help legal professionals work smarter, manage their organisation more effectively and grow their business. We offer solutions for legal research and know how, including Practical Law, Sweet & Maxwell, Westlaw UK, Lawtel and Solcara, as well as the most highly-rated and widely-used system for managing your law department, Serengeti.

For more information, visit legal-solutions.co.uk

Second: Richmond Chambers

Richmond Chambers impressed the judges with its energetic and trailblazing use of the ABS model to offer the public commercially viable direct access to the bar.

Richmond was the first barrister-only chambers to become an ABS and to proactively compete with solicitors for private clients on a level playing field.

In doing so, the chambers has been able to keep overheads low, while the use of cloud-based IT systems has improved standards of client care, as well as facilitating a paperless office environment and remote working.

In January, Richmond also became the first ABS to be authorised by the Bar Standards Board to provide pupillages. The chambers intends to roll out a five-step career path, starting with paralegals through to dual-practice barristers and partners.

Focusing on a niche area of immigration law, with an emphasis on high-value investor, entrepreneur and business clients, Richmond has cut down on marketing costs by accessing new clients through multiple websites, blogs and social media channels.

Despite having a marketing spend of just £500 per month, Richmond received instructions from 238 new fee-paying clients in the first six months of trading and is still receiving about 50 new enquiries each week.

Third: Quindell

Quindell’s strategy to reduce the cost of claims for the insurance industry drove its swift entrance into the legal services market via an ABS licence in 2012.

Once the licence was secured it acquired personal injury firms Silverbeck Rymer, Pinto Potts and The Compensation Lawyers before it began structuring a high-volume response to the needs of the market.

Then, coinciding with the Jackson Reforms, Quindell also acquired the Abstract Legal Holdings group of companies, which included claims management and marketing business Accident Advice Helpline.

Judges were impressed by Quindell’s integration of similar legal practices to build up capability across a number of sectors. It responded cleverly to a multitude of changes and kept costs low with competitive pricing, an innovative claims software system and in-house IT packages.

Since acquiring Silverbeck Rymer, Quindell’s legal services employee headcount has risen from 250 to 1,100 and is expected to exceed 2,000 by the end of 2014.

As an ABS, the business handles more than 15,000 personal injury claims per month, from road traffic accidents to employers’ liability and clinical negligence, and has seen a 500 per cent growth in 12 months.


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