LawVest: silk embroidery

So DLA Piper’s investment in soon-to-be ABS LawVest isn’t as much of a random punt as many first thought. As we reveal today, LawVest is launching with a bang.

So far the ABS moves have been largely consumer-facing. LawVest, though, is squarely aimed at business clients. It’s also the first to involve the bar through Riverview Chambers, a vehicle that provides direct access to no fewer than 12 silks, including names such as Richard Lissack QC and Jonathan Caplan QC, plus 43 barristers in total, all on a fixed fee.

It’s the fixed-fee package that is the key to the LawVest sell. It’s not like it has much competition here; question most litigators about cost predictions and they always answer that it’s like asking, ’how long is a piece of string?’. While these litigators may think they’re keepers of a mysterious flame, unfortunately that response tends to come over as being at worst patronising and at best clueless. After all, as we revealed earlier this year (The Lawyer, 16 January), a heuristic approach can work even for the big names.

Quinn Emanuel, for example, is more than happy to estimate trial costs for its big-money clients and does rather well out of it. Riverview Chambers is unlikely to become involved in multibillion-pound cases, but given the clout of the silks involved, neither is it after low-rent litigation.

There’s also a slightly more workaday end to LawVest, which is Riverview Solicitors. This is where you can see where one element of DLA Piper’s involvement panning out. The firm is in the process of sloughing off its lower-value clients, so giving them an option of a home to go to is a neat idea, although there’s no contractual compulsion attached.

As one poster on commented when the news of DLA Piper’s involvement with LawVest broke, this turns the screw on those firms delivering services to the SME market. Not only is LawVest unafraid of telesales, the product it’s selling is certainty, at the very least when it comes to budget.

In an ABS world, content is not king; content is commodity.