Good for our image

Law firms now manage over £1 billion of funds, according to the Association of Solicitors' Investment Management (Asim). This represents a 50 per cent boost on last year and would generate on aggregate in the range of 11 million in fees.

Setting up an investment department does not come cheap nor is it an easy option for any law firm. Some have started out on the path and turned midway. Others have considered and rejected the idea. The difficulty and cost of hiring investment management staff, coupled with the strict regulatory regime and the logistics of setting up such an organisation, is prohibitive for many firms.

However, those firms which have taken up the gauntlet have shown imagination in developing this new area of business at a time when more traditional areas of work are disappearing.

Hartlepool firm Tilly Bailey & Irvine's plan to set up a dealing room to attract the attention of both clients and fee earners is an innovative approach to removing the mystique from investment services and to market the service. There is no doubt that other firms should get involved in this area. Equally, however, there are many others who are wholly unsuited to it. The profession needs firms which will not only provide a good investment service but enhance the reputation of the profession in investment management.