US invasion of consumer law begins

For those in the commercial law arena, the arrival of US consumer law giant Jacoby & Meyers on these shores may not seem significant. But the firm’s plans to gain an ABS licence and acquire similar practices in the UK and Europe are another sign of the major change in the personal injury law sector.

Last year, remember, Australian listed firm Slater & Gordon bought Russell Jones & Walker. It then followed up with more acquisitions and has already become a major name in the UK.

Jacoby & Meyers is a pretty big operation, with 130 offices all over the US and a range of practices helping ordinary Americans in need. It has also led a fight against the US rules prohibiting external investment in law firms, and seems to be embracing the opportunities in the UK’s Legal Services Act.

The firm has teamed up with private equity boutique MJ Hudson (launched in 2010 by former SJ Berwin partner Matthew Hudson) to create a joint venture that will invest in consumer firms in Europe.

Hudson, according to Jacoby & Meyers’ management committee member Chase Givens, is “the most knowledgeable” lawyer in Europe on ABSs. That’s a big claim – but one thing Hudson does know about is private equity investment and acquisitions, which ought to help the search for suitable targets.

The move marks another step in the shakeup of the UK legal landscape sparked by the Legal Services Act. It will certainly not be the last.

 Also on

  • More retention figures have been revealed, with Osborne Clarke and Stephenson Harwood both keeping on a high proportion of their trainees
  • Norton Rose Fulbright and Australian firm Webb Henderson have advised Qatari company Ooredoo on its Myanmar telecoms licence 
  • And the final instalment of Zhong Lun international managing partner Robert Lewis’s excellent blog series on Asian legal rankings is live