QualitySolicitors secures majority investment from private equity firm

QualitySolicitors has become one of the first legal organisations to secure private equity backing, with Palamon Capital Partners becoming the majority shareholder in the high street law franchise.

The size of the investment – which has seen Palamon take a majority stake in QualitySolicitors’ holding company – is undisclosed, but it is thought to be as much as £100m. The money will be principally used for marketing purposes in the short term and operational purposes in the medium term.

The deal – which saw interest from at least five other private equity groups – has handed advisory roles to law firms Greenberg Traurig Maher (GTM) and Dundas & Wilson.

GTM City corporate partner Ewan Robertson advised QualitySolicitors, while Palamon – which has in the past worked with Slaughter and May – turned to Dundas City corporate partner Simon Sale on this deal.

QualitySolicitors chief executive Craig Holt said the money will be used to fund the firm’s efforts to achieve 40% share of the high street legal market, which he said would be pursued through acquiring further law firm branches.

QualitySolicitors currently has 220 branches with combined revenues of around £300m, which, according to Holt, accounts for around 3% of the £10bn high street market. The brand is looking to have signed up as many as 1,000 branches by next year.

Holt (pictured) said: “The private equity industry is quite interested in the legal sector, but they have understood that investment into major law firms is not as attractive as it once appeared to be. Instead, the money to be made is in the high street services market. We chose to go forward with Palamon because of their excellent reputation and their experience from previous investments in professional services.”

The deal has seen a number of Palamon members join the QualitySolicitors board, with Holt remaining chief executive alongside chief operating officer Saleem Arif.

The news comes after QualitySolicitors secured a deal to sell legal services via branches of WHSmith earlier this year, launching a trial in hundreds of the national newsagents’ branches.

Palamon has a range investments across business services, financial services, healthcare, leisure and retail, media and communications and software services, including independent financial advisor Towry and major Swedish coffee chain Espresso House.