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I have in the past expressed exasperation on these pages at the sensationalisation of legal news. It is not without some hesitation, then, that I have chosen to write about what I feel is the most significant development yet to be seen in the legal services market in the post-Legal Services Act era.
I am of course referring to the recent announcement of the acquisition of Riverview Law by EY. I do not describe it in these terms because it signals intent by EY (or any of the “Big Four”) to take steps into the legal services market. Although not insignificant, this process has been under way for some time and will no doubt continue.
In my view, the most significant aspect of this development is that the market has finally seen, in no uncertain terms, an event of credible, independent validation of the effectiveness of the modern, client-centric approach to delivering legal services, which Riverview has defined and led since its launch in 2012.
Before I go on to illustrate this, I should mention the inevitable speculation about financial performance, it having been noted by commentators that the latest set of published accounts paints a less than impressive picture. I can add no insight on the financial background, but I do know that the Riverview business is based on investment in securing long term, multi-year subscription-based contracts with large blue-chip corporate clients. This comes at an up-front cost but brings with it significant, sustainable benefits for the future. First, it creates secure and predictable contracted revenue streams for several years ahead. Secondly, it enables contracts to be underpinned by a brand and service-delivery capability designed to make itself integral to its customers, creating dependency on functional effectiveness, rather than individual personal relationships.
These characteristics create a financial robustness that makes for a more attractive and sustainable investment proposition than the relatively fragile traditional model. (I suggest a momentary pause here to reflect on how this looks if you replace the term “PEP” with “wages”, perhaps a truer reflection of reality). Needless to say, the fact that EY has chosen to make this investment speaks rather more loudly than the views of this commentator.
So, what do I mean when I refer to this modern “client-centric” way of providing legal servi
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