LOD to enter Asia Pacific with AdventBalance merger

BLP contract lawyer spin off LOD (Lawyers On Demand) has announced that it has agreed to merge with its Asia Pacific counterpart AdventBalance.

The deal, due to complete in March, will be the first cross-continent union in the contract lawyer space.

AdventBalance has 200 lawyers and consultants across Hong Kong, Sydney, Singapore, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth, while LOD has 400 lawyers based in London.

The combined company, which will be fully financially integrated and is set to have revenue of around £25m, will be known as LOD from the second half of 2016.

AdventBalance is run by chief executive Ken Jagger, formerly a partner at legacy Freehills in Australia, and managing director John Knox, formerly head of business development at Allen & Overy.

It was formed from the combination of two Australian businesses, Perth-based Balance Legal, established by Jagger, and Sydney-based Advent Lawyers, founded by Knox, in 2012.

simonharperSpeaking to Legal Week, LOD co-founder Simon Harper (pictured) said that he had been looking at the “best way” of entering Asia Pacific since late 2015.

“One option was to build something ourselves. But the market for new law is moving really quickly and it felt like the right thing to do was to get together with somebody who already had a market leading presence,” he said.

Previously, LOD struck a deal with DLA Piper to manage a contract lawyer service for the firm in the UK and it had planned to roll out the service to Europe and Asia Pacific in early 2016. 

However, while Harper is adamant the roll out will still go ahead, the tie up with AdventBalance appears to mean that the timing of that move has been thrown into question.

Harper said: “The two things aren’t mutually exclusive. We are not choosing one thing over another.”

Both LOD and AdventBalance will continue to operate as regional businesses. 

Harper said: ”For the lawyers, things won’t change from their perspective. The businesses are run regionally but from a client perspective, it allows us to do things across multiple jurisdictions.”

The market for new law is moving really quickly and it felt like the right thing to do was to get together with somebody who already had a market leading presence

It is not yet known how many shares the key stakeholders will retain in the merged business.

Since City firm BLP approved the spin off of LOD in 2012, it has owned an 80% stake. While it will remain a majority shareholder in the combined businesses, the exact size of its stake is not yet known.

LOD and AdventBalance management will also retain a stake in the business. Currently, LOD co-founders Jonathan Brenner and Simon Harper own a 20% stake.

AdventBalance is owned by its management and several individual investors but the full breakdown of the ownership is not clear.

The merged entity will be run by Harper as managing director alongside chief executive Tom Hartley (formerly LOD’s managing director), as well as AdventBalance’s Jagger as chief operating office and Knox as managing director.

As a major shareholder, BLP will have two board positions. Currently, BLP’s spots on LOD’s board are occupied by senior partner Neville Eisenberg and finance director David Rowe.