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Given the doom and gloom surrounding the property market and notable failures such as Fox Hayes and Hammonds Direct, it makes a change to highlight a firm that appears to be doing well.
Residential property boutique Arc Property Solicitors is not only projecting a 33 per cent increase in turnover for the 2009-10 financial year, it is currently trying to put together a syndicate of business angels to invest around £500,000 in the firm in return for up to 25 per cent of the equity.
“It’s the maximum the rules will allow,” says managing partner Richard Chan of the new, more relaxed rules about law firm ownership. “We feel a bit like we’re in Dragons’ Den and believe very strongly we have a good story to tell.”
Chan, formerly a partner at Leeds firm Kelly & Co, set up Arc in 2004. Chan says he believed at the time he had spotted an opportunity “to do things differently” and fancied making a name for himself away from the confines of a more traditional law firm.
“The main difference with Arc is that we proactively seek out new referrers from around the country using email, the internet and the phone,” he says. “We don’t just rely on sources in our local markets. Firms that go to the wall tend to sit there waiting for the phone to ring.”
The thinly veiled dig at failed firms such as Fox Hayes and Hammonds Direct reflects a bullishness about Chan and his firm that he hopes will attract investors. Arc’s model, he adds, is to build a large number of referrers such as estate agents and brokers from around the country to spread the risk.
“The firms that have gone to the wall had all their eggs in one basket,” Chan claims. “They were relying too heavily on one or two key referrers.” Chan also claims that his clients prefer dealing with their solicitor via email or on the phone.
“The days are gone when they want to go and see a solicitor,” he argues. “Everything we do we can explain over the phone or on email.”
Managing partner: Richard Chan Turnover: £1.5m Number of partners: Three Number of equity partners: Two Number of lawyers: Six Number of fee-earners: 11 Total number of staff: 25 Number of offices: Two Locations: Harrogate, London Practice area: Residential property