The leader of new alternative business structure Riverview Law has pledged that by the end of the decade he will be hiring no qualified lawyers – only school-leavers who will be trained at the firm.
Karl Chapman (pictured), chief executive, was speaking at the Modern Law conference in London on the day his firm was granted its ABS licence by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
The licence means Riverview Law will own Riverview Solicitors from 1 June, creating a combined workforce of around 90 people. Plans to grow the headcount further were announced last year.
The licence is granted to Riverview’s holding company LawVest, with Steven Zdolyny named as head of legal practice.
LawVest is owned by AdviserPlus Business Solutions, with global firm DLA Piper owning a minority stake. It was originally an HR outsourcer but now provides legal services to FTSE100 clients on a fixed-fee basis.
Chapman said the idea for his firm had been conceived before he was aware of alternative business structures.
The new status will allow the firm to grow and bring in non-lawyers to its management board, but Chapman said ABS status was of limited importance compared with the way the company operates – with training at the forefront.
‘The structure doesn’t matter, it’s so much more about how you run your business,’ he said.
‘In the next five or six years we will not be recruiting senior lawyers. At the moment we take people with a range of experience, but we’re taking people out of school who can be qualified lawyers who are paid. The market is changing rapidly.’
Chapman said his business model, which had trumpeted the scrapping of billable hours, is nothing new to people from other sectors.
‘I struggle with the word innovation as a lot of people use fixed fees,’ he said. ‘Our model is long-term contracts with blue-chip customers – that’s not innovative. It only looks innovative from the perspective of the legal market.’
In May last year Riverview partnered with south-east firm DMH Stallard to launch a number of combined fixed-fee services and products in disputes, M&A and real estate.