A south-east law firm which has won awards for its innovative approach to business advice has used its name to launch a new franchise. Acumen Business Law, based in Hove, East Sussex, will license firms to use the name Acumen Business Law Enterprise.

Acumen’s managing director and founder, Penina Shepherd, told the Gazette that solicitors and law firms joining the ­franchise would be committing to sharing its business model. The model includes fixed fees or a retainer for every matter. Acumen is the first franchise to focus solely on business clients.

The franchise’s target client base is one to which law firms have struggled to become trusted advisers. In 2010, research found that less than 4% of small businesses would use their lawyer to ‘sense-check’ decisions, or to help benchmark their behaviour against competitors.