Capita’s entry into the legal market

From 999 calls to prisons, outsourcing giants have been running much of Britain since the Thatcherite privatisations of the 1980s. And now they’re trotting into the UK legal market, too. Within a few days, one of the UK’s largest outsourcers – Capita – will walk into the profession via an acquisition of Optima Legal Services.

The outsourcing giant has been eyeing up the legal market for some time – the SRA came down on an Optima-Capita deal in 2010, so Optima getting the ABS greenlight this week is good news for the pair. But what of the rest of the profession?

Capita’s “imminent” acquisition of Optima won’t just be a threat to Optima’s rival volume outfits. Cost-cutting in the public sector is already seeing local authority legal teams being pushed towards privatisation, meaning they could soon be on a collision course with the FTSE 100 outsourcers also entering the market.

We have noted with interest the appetite in local government to explore the ABS as a means to deliver and receive legal services,” said a spokeswoman for Capita earlier this year. “An ABS licence will allow Capita to provide regulated and non-regulated legal services to a variety of markets, including the public sector.

No wonder local authority legal teams are trying to speed the ABS application process up. They need to reshape, before the FTSE 100 take over their turf.

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