A personal injury solicitor is setting up a panel of firms to ‘stand up and fight back’ against non-lawyer entrants to the legal market.

Paul Roberts, founder of north-west firm Porters, has created eLawyers, a network of 8-10 firms in each practice area in nine regions of England and Wales.

Joining fees paid by each firm will be pooled to fund a £2m television advertising campaign in the next four months.

Roberts says the scheme will help solicitors to ‘stand up and fight back’ against pressures from legislation and incoming alternative business structures.

‘It’s either this or be crushed and rolled over by investors currently not within the profession,’ he said. ‘There is a clear threat from non-solicitors so this is us throwing some money into the pot and being stronger together.

‘The panel allows exclusivity for the firms that join and means they can keep their own brand and identity.’

Roberts declined to say how much each firm will pay, but each regional co-operative is expected to raise around £250,000.

He said the scheme was able to avoid any breach of the forthcoming ban on referral fees because payments were not directly linked to the number of cases.

ELawyers, which already has a call centre in Nottingham, started its appeal for solicitor firms last month. Although Porters will be a member, Roberts said there were spaces for other personal injury firms to join.