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STAR SPOTTING

The licensing of Alternative Business Structures from 3 January 2012 got the legal media acting like a welcoming party at an awards ceremony, hoping to spot any celebs approaching up the SRA's red carpet. But were they satisfied with the guest list?

Ever since a liberalised legal services market was dubbed 'Tesco Law' it would appear the ideal name to join the list of ABS applicants would be one of the two Richards, Sir Branson or Tesco CEO Brasher. However it wasn't to be but the Lawyer, Legal Week, Gazette, Solicitors Journal et al have been spoiled by no less than 65 firms adding their names to the list.

These have included some interesting brands, not least Admiral Insurance Company and the Co-operative Legal Services; two names which have become synonymous with the topic over the years.   

Subsequently, the name of Quindell added itself to that list with the acquisition of Silverbeck Rymer and the purchase of an equity stake in Ai Claims, which represented one of the first deals to publicly reveal a vertically integrated approach to personal injury claims handling. Jim Rymer, chairman of Silverbeck Rymer, said: 'We see significant benefits in being part of the enlarged group. Quindell has a rapidly growing presence in the insurance space and we firmly believe in its non-conflict approach to working with insurers.'

As Premextra was going to press, a deal hatched down under stole the headlines with Australian firm Slater & Gordon announcing it had acquired Russell Jones & Walker for £53.8m.

Slater & Gordon became the first law firm ever to go public after listing on the Australia Stock Exchange five years ago. Managing director Andrew Grech said that while the UK had a similar legal jurisdiction to Australia, it had spent three years searching for the right opportunity in the UK.

He said: "In RJW we have found a great firm built on values which are very aligned with our own. The team at RJW gives us confidence that we have the right people on the ground with local knowledge to achieve our joint aspiration of being the first choice for personal legal services in the UK".