LegalZoom, the US self-service brand, will today announce its first acquisition of a law firm in England, 11 months after its UK arm was approved as an alternative business structure.
Beaumont Legal, a 200-year-old firm in Wakefield, West Yorkshire which describes itself as one of the largest conveyancers in the country, will become part of LegalZoom by the end of the year, Craig Holt (pictured), UK chief executive of LegalZoom, told the Gazette.
Holt said the acquisition, funded by private equity, would be a step towards building a ‘next-generation’ law firm: ‘Beaumont is one important building block in that goal.’
He declined to reveal commercial details.
Texas-based LegalZoom, founded in 2001, is one of the best-known legal brands in the US, where it says it has prepared more than 2 million documents such as wills online. In 2014 a company backed by global private equity firm Permira became the largest shareholder in the business, with a £122m investment to fund expansion.
In January this year LegalZoom UK announced that it had been licensed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to provide reserved legal activities as an ABS. It was the first US-based legal business to take this step. However since then it has been dormant. Its most recent published accounts show a loss of £64,000 in 2014.
Nick Masheder, managing partner of Beaumont Legal, said that the acquisition is a catalyst for the start of a significant recruitment drive at the firm: ‘This is an unparalleled opportunity to join with the most innovative, well-known legal brand in the world. We’re also looking forward to considerably adding to our existing capabilities with forward-thinking, innovative individuals who want to be part of something truly special.’
Holt, who previously founded the pioneering QualitySolicitors network, stated: ‘We’re building a unique, next-generation law firm from the ground up, with a singular, relentless purpose: to best meet the needs of consumers and businesses in the modern era. This requires the perfect blend of technology, lawyers and other expertise. Beaumont Legal are an important piece of that jigsaw.’
Holt would not be drawn on the date of a commercial launch. He told the Gazette: ‘When we’ve built a service that is as good as it can possibly be, we’ll launch. We’ll be as patient in that exercise as is commensurate with the kind of revolutionary service we’re looking to develop.’