Taylor Wessing has become the first firm to confirm that it is considering selling a stake in the business to a private equity house. The firm is looking to take advantage of the new legal landscape promised by the Legal Services Bill announced last week.
Managing partner Michael Frawley said the firm's plans for a new office may include raising funds via private equity. "Yes, we are looking at it," he said. "But we haven't gone through it in any detail yet and it raises a whole lot of questions that need answering."
Investment banks, accountants and consultants are already circling firms with a view to exploring opportunities for outside investment or IPOs. Scottish investment bank Noble & Co is actively talking to six mid-tier outfits.
Alasdair Robinson, a director in Noble's financial institutions team, said: "We're trying to lead the charge on this. I think a lot of law firms are interested in the concept, but it's going to take someone who's quite enterprising to make that first jump."
Meanwhile, investment firm CB Equity has drawn up a shortlist of 10 banks as potential funding sources for innovative law firms.
CB Equity's Geza Toth-Feher said: "It's a very positive and constructive development, particularly the part of the bill relating to alternative business structures. We wanted more clarity and this provides it."