A new entrant is set to launch on the UK legal sector in 2012 with financial backing from international firm DLA Piper. The firm has become the joint largest shareholder in holding company LawVest, although the size of the investment remains secret. LawVest, a registered company with an office in Birmingham, is yet to enter the legal market or reveal exactly what it will offer. But it says it has hired 40 legal professionals – as well as a number of support staff – in preparation for a launch in the new year. The plan is then to unveil a number of different brands in different areas of law, the first targeted at advice for small businesses. The company will also apply to become an alternative business structure at the ‘earliest possible opportunity’, after the first known financial tie-up between a new legal services provider and existing major firm. DLA will have no operational input on a day-to-day basis, but the firm’s co-chief executive Sir Nigel Knowles has been appointed as the non-executive chairman of LawVest. Knowles said: ‘All law firms will have spent considerable time evaluating what impact the Legal Services Act will have on their strategic ambitions and its effects on the competitive landscape. ‘This strategic investment is an innovative way of participating in and benefiting from the new environment, while protecting our client’s interests in this sector of the market.’ LawVest’s chief executive, Karl Chapman, stepped down in June as executive chairman of outsourcing consultancy AdviserPlus, which is another investor in LawVest. Chapman previously worked in investment management and set up his own consultancy, recruitment and training business. LawVest’s chief operating officer, Adam Shutkever, read law at Cambridge before working in investment banks specialising in mergers and acquisitions and equity capital markets. He joined in August this year.
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