Optima reprimanded by the SRA over Capita investment

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  • This is unfortunate to say the least. As others has already commented Halliwells mismanagement goes unpunished but perhaps of greater importance is the financing deal was set up in such a way as to contravene regulations. Given the impending law change scheduled for 14 months hence alternative funding options were available. Prodision of external finance to law firms is not exactly rocket science; why not use them as others have.

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  • As for the trainee point - the Bradford 'Head Office' never took on trainees until Optima 'merged' with McKeags (effectively a take-over given all the redundancies that followed). As McKeags had training contracts, it was agreed that Bradford could... however they immediately announced that they would no longer be doing them at the Newcastle office... Cutbacks!
    I to am annoyed that only a reprimand was given to the partners... The way that Optima was run by Capita was a disgrace (and it did indeed seem that it was run by them)!
    I left their employment as I was completely changing career, however I was unimpressed with the merger and the outcomes that arose and I know many people who left for similar reasons, or were made redundant, whilst overtime was made compulsory to meet demand...

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  • You have to really ask the question is the SRA ,fit for purpose, and in the new regulatory regime when firms have a choice why would you choose. Any truth in the rumour "Optima" will soon be going down the road to Chelmsford to join the CLC who recognised years ago the world has moved on from the Quill Pens and allow external investment.
    All the best Anthony and enjoy the pay rise.

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  • Reading the comments above it makes one wonder what lawyers are most focussed on: delivering a good, cost-effective service to clients, or worrying about how a legal services business is funded. Frankly, I don't mind how lawyers fund their business, no more than I mind whether my bank is owned by a partnership, public shareholders, or a company etc. I want the service, that's all. If Optima can give a quality service with its funding structure, then good. Lawyers clapping their hands that a 'new entrant' has been driven out of the market just seems like protectionism and is very short sighted. Better to consider how you will compete in the future rather than looking to the SRA to protect the market for you.

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  • What gets me is that all of this now seems so blatant.
    Adrian Lamb – ex CEO of Optima is now touting himself on Linkedin.com as having been the CEO/FD of Capita Group Plc for the past SEVEN YEARS (2003-2010). His profile does not now contain one single mention of the word “Optima” yet, just two months ago, before this broke, the complete opposite was true. His profile said he was CEO of Optima Legal Services with no mention of the word “Capita”! You can still see remnants of the old cached profile heading by doing an advanced Google Search on the phrase “Adrian Lamb” and include the word “Optima”.
    I see that no action is to be taken against Capita as they do not fall under the jurisdiction of the SRA or FSA however, is not Mr Lambs profile a smoking gun? He says that he was CEO/FD of their “Legal Services Division” however, according to Capita’s annual report, they have five divisions but no Legal Services Division. Have they, a public company been hiding a whole division from their investors? Also, do they now need to publish the details of the loan repayment details with Optima?
    For what it's worth, my recollection is that when our employment transferred in May 2006 from DLA Direct Llp – (owned entirely by DLA Piper) to Optima, we came under the umbrella of Capita Insurance Services and that Optima were accountable to a chap called Max Pell.
    It’s interesting that Lamb claims he “built the business” from “also ran player”……. I wonder how DLA Piper will feel about him describing the business and clients bequeathed to Optima in return for Capita’s first tranche of money as “also ran” status. Also, this bit about him having served Capita Group Plc as CEO/FD for SEVEN years is puzzling. I remember that for a couple of years before Optima came into being, Mr Lamb was the boss of the accounts function at DLA Piper’s Bradford Office (which later became DLA Direct Llp and, then, Optima).

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  • All in all, a bad couple of months for Optima then when you factor in the derailment of the HIPS gravy train and now this!
    I wonder who the unfortunate Barristers were who advised on the deal and whether Optima's "flagship" Professional Negligence team will be looking at it....
    The share option plan envisaged Capita purchasing Optima for £1.... I am dying to know what the terms of repayment to Capita are and what assurances have been given to the SRA on solvency!
    This episode reminds me of the legend of the flight of Icarus.
    Some would say that any schadenfreude heading in Optima's direction is well earned! I couldn’t possibly comment

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  • Capita ... Is that the same Capita to whom the SRA has outsourced management of the ARP? This all begins to look a little circular ...

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  • Oh Graeme - move on...PLEASE!!!!

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  • Re The Client's comments - you may very well not care where the funding has come from (we know that from the fact that the government has recently had to bail many of you out and yet you still try to dish out bonuses), but we are regulated by the SRA and like to all play on a level playing field.

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  • Here is the SRA report in full.

    http://www.sra.org.uk/consumers/solicitor-check/155841.article

    Note that the partners have been SEVERELY reprimanded as opposed to just reprimanded.

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