More and more firms are looking to capitalise on structural changes allowed under the Legal Services Act.
Earlier this month The Lawyer reported that Cubism Law was focusing on offering multidisciplinary partnerships to clients (The Lawyer, 15 June).
Now Shrewsbury’s Blackbourn & Bond has become the latest to take advantage of the new opportunities.
On 6 April the Shropshire firm incorporated as a limited company and became one of the first in the UK to appoint a non-lawyer director using new legislation that came into effect at the end of March this year. Mark Callahan assumed the role of business development director and also joined the firm’s equity.
“We’re obviously looking to develop things for the future and we’ve seen the legal disciplinary practice opportunity open up,” says senior partner Nick Blackbourn. “With Mark we wanted to send out a message that’s different, that we have in our management someone who has developed his own business and can offer the benefit of his knowledge and services to clients.”
Callahan has come into Blackbourn & Bond at partner level and can own 25 per cent of the equity.
“We’re hoping to expand and build this part of the team,” says senior partner Nick Blackbourn.
Blackbourn & Bond, which was previously known as Blackbourn Andrews, styles itself as a boutique firm dedicated to serving the business and commerce law interests of property and business entrepreneurs, small and medium-sized enterprises and multinational corporations.
Tax efficiencies were one benefit of becoming a limited company but, as Blackbourn argues, it also makes the ownership structure more simple.
“As we act for commercial clients we wanted to operate like a business not just a law firm,” he adds.
Blackbourn spent 10 years in industry at RHM and Guinness. “By making our business run in the same way as our clients it should help us understand each other better,” he claims.
In 2011, the regulations will allow alternative business structures and external investment. For Blackbourn & Bond, that could be the next stage.
Senior partner (and founding director):Nick Blackbourn
Turnover: Approximately £500,000
Number of partners (directors): Four
Number of equity partners (shareholders):Three
Number of lawyers: Two
Number of fee-earners: Two
Number of offices: One
Main practice areas: Company commercial, commercial property, employment, IP/IT
Clients: Applied Seismology Consultants, Invertek Drives, Newport Paper Company, Water Management Consultants