Sink or swim for Irwin Mitchell

The Legal Services Act has been the menacing presence on the collective horizon of the City’s law firms for a good few years.

Like Olympic cyclists looking nervously over their shoulders for the first sign of a flash of lycra rushing past their wheels, everyone’s been waiting to see whose trigger finger is the twitchiest.

And the first big name to blink in the will-they-won’t-they showdown is Irwin Mitchell (see story). The firm today revealed that it is taking financial advice from investment bank Espirito Santo as it prepares to milk the corporate cash cow.

The likeliest outcome is that Irwin Mitchell will become the first firm to float on the stock exchange, meaning that it will also become the first to be made accountable to external investors. Scary stuff.

Though maybe not so scary for Irwin Mitchell. The firm has been positioning itself for the Brave New World since 2007 (see story) when it began broadening distribution channels – and using corporate jargon like ’distribution channels’.

Senior partner Michael Napier even lobbied the SRA to allow the firm to convert to an alternative business structure ahead of time.

Forward thinking or the action of a desperate firm? The market will decide that question soon enough.