After Clementi: Russell Jones in ABS shake-up

Russell Jones & Walker is set to become the first law firm to take advantage of the legal reforms recommended by Sir David Clementi, with a radical overhaul of its entire business structure.

The firm aims to be the first to utilise an alternative business structure (ABS) in order to transform itself into a household brand for consumer legal services in time for the implementation of the Legal Services Bill later this year.

Managing partner Neil Kinsella said: “People have got to remake general legal services and come up with new and better ideas – and we need to think of the structures now.

“We’ve learnt a lot about how to service the consumer through Claims Direct and the other legal helplines that we’ve set up. The reforms brought in by Clementi will allow us to develop what we already have into an even better consumer legal service.”

Russell Jones believes it is already in a good position to make the transition over to an ABS following its acquisition of personal injury companies such as Claims Direct, which resulted in the firm inheriting a call centre.

Kinsella said: “The core of our services will be higher value and there will be degrees of joint venture with different parties – a group structure with different product lines.”

The firm has hired Louise Restell from Which? (formerly the Consumers’ Association). Restell, who worked alongside the Government campaigning for the legal services reforms, has been brought in to hone the firm’s consumer focus.

Kinsella said: “At the moment there’s a black market in consumer legal services as legal advice is often tied to an insurer’s choice, which curbs a consumer’s access to legal advice. This is why the ABS strategy is a good thing, as it brings the control back to lawyers.”

The firm’s initial consumer push will see the launch of Russell Jones’s weekly podcast in two months’ time.