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(London) Jacoby & Meyers, LLC, the largest full service consumer law firm in the U.S., today announced plans to expand internationally with the establishment of a new joint venture based in the United Kingdom. With this move based in the U.K., Jacoby & Meyers, LLC (J&M) has positioned itself to become the world’s largest privately-owned, full-service consumer legal group.
The new joint venture is formed as Jacoby & Meyers Europe Limited, which will be owned by Jacoby & Meyers, LLC in a joint venture with an affiliate of London-based private equity and corporate law firm MJ Hudson. MJ Hudson is led by Matthew Hudson, who formerly ran two other large U.S. law firms in Europe, and is a leading pioneer of new legal business models. Jacoby & Meyers and MJ Hudson are both private equity investing in the new joint venture company to seek acquisitions for Jacoby & Meyers Europe (J&M) within the U.K. and across Europe, which, in turn, will lead to the expansion of J&M’s global consumer offering. In due course, Jacoby &Meyers Europe is likely to seek Alternative Business Structure (ABS) status in the U.K., which allows law firms to attract external non-lawyer equity ownership and funding. Jacoby & Meyers Europe has a number of U.K. and European consumer law acquisition targets.
Chase Givens, the J&M management committee member responsible for European mergers and acquisitions, said that, "Matthew Hudson is the most knowledgeable attorney in Europe regarding the changing legal landscape and Alternative Business Structures under the new U.K. Legal Services Act. Matthew is the perfect mergers and acquisitions specialist to serve as the chief architect for J&M's European and global expansion."
Matthew Hudson calls the Jacoby & Meyers expansion “a major disruption to the U.S. legal profession’s status quo, as Jacoby & Meyers takes the lead in the U.S. adapting to worldwide changes and innovations in the legal industry. Using the European new platform and the new U.K. laws on external ownership, the JV’s intention is to power Jacoby & Meyers as the U.S. leading consumer law brand to be a global leader. That growth, in turn, will provide consumers with greater choice, access and transparency.”
Other examples of recent Jacoby &Meyers’ expansion include an acquisition/merger with Macey Bankruptcy Law, P.C., the largest consumer bankruptcy firm in the U.S. Jacoby & Meyers also acquired for use the consumer legal forms library and domain “LegalForms.com”, from USLegal Forms, Inc., the largest, oldest and most acclaimed online source for downloadable legal forms. Jacoby & Meyers now offers more than 86,000 state-specific legal forms to U.S. consumers.
In 2012, the U.K. Parliament ratified the Legal Services Act, which allows law firms to acquire investment from outside, non-lawyer sources. Under this new law, the Solicitors Regulation Authority in the U.K. began accepting ABS applications January, 2012. As an ABS, a law firm with non-lawyer owners provides regulated legal services to clients. Until now, law firms could only be owned by lawyers. To help bring about the change needed in the U.S. to allow outside investors, Jacoby & Meyers filed lawsuits in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut challenging rules that prohibit investments from non-lawyers. Although a federal judge in New York dismissed the lawsuit there, saying the court lacks the jurisdiction to hear the case, the action on appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals was reversed by the court, and the case was remanded back to district court for further proceedings and amendments, thus keeping the action alive to bring about change in the U.S. to allow non-lawyer investment in law firms.
While the 50 U.S. states currently ban outside investments, Washington, D.C. firms have been allowed to have non-lawyer investors for more than two decades. Now U.K. and Australian law firms are allowed to solicit non-lawyer investors to fund their growth. Slater & Gordon Ltd. became the first law firm to be listed and traded publicly on the Australian Stock Exchange, and has moved into the U.K. legal market through its purchase of the U.K. law firm Russell Jones & Walker.
Matthew Hudson stated, “With the introduction of the U.K. new ownership regulations for law firms, the U.K. has stolen a competitive march from the other key global legal jurisdictions, including the U.S. Jacoby & Meyers is lobbying for similar external ownership changes in the U.S.; without those changes the practice of law in the U.S. is in danger of falling behind the rest of the world.”
“With ABS, traditional law firms will be able to compete for funding with U.S. web-based, client lead generating companies as well as legal forms companies. These types of companies offer limited legal services and products, but are allowed to have outside investors because they are not considered law firms,” Hudson stated.
With external investment, Jacoby & Meyers would be able to expand its services in communities where working-class, ‘blue-collar’ and immigrant families reside. “This is all about giving the public, especially lower and middle income clients, access to affordable, quality legal representation,” said Len Jacoby, founding partner of Jacoby & Meyers. “Our ability to raise the capital necessary to serve the public is severely restricted in the U.S. by an outdated Rule of Professional Conduct. Now a significant part of our growth strategy will be based in London," Jacoby commented. Jacoby & Meyers will also continue its U.S. expansion privately as the law firm has done for decades.
About Jacoby & Meyers: Jacoby & Meyers, recognized as a pioneer of consumer legal services reform, is America's largest full-service consumer law firm, helping clients and families obtain assistance in the U.S. legal system. It is Jacoby & Meyers' goal to make lawyers and the legal system more accessible and affordable for every American. Since its inception in 1972, Jacoby & Meyers has grown to become the largest, best known and one of the most innovative law firms in the U.S. with over 130 offices and attorneys available to practice in all 50 U.S. states. For more information on the Jacoby & Meyers law firm, go to www.jacobymeyers.com.
Contact: Robin Rainer
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