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Keith Anderson

VIALEX hires top lawyer to front expansion plan

LEGAL services provider Vialex has hired a former Wolfson Microelectronics, Howden Group and Ben Sherman lawyer as it mulls expansion into England.

Alan Reid, previously a partner at Maclay Murray and Spens, joins in the new role of head of legal counsel services to drive a growth in clients using Vialex as in-house lawyers.

The Edinburgh business, founded by former Dickson Minto pair Keith Anderson and Keith Dinsmore two years ago, is keen to attract more SME customers and offer support to existing in-house legal teams for areas such as banking and finance, commercial contract and regulations, corporate and intellectual property.

Mr Anderson said: “We have found our clients so far have tended to be bigger, well-established companies with an ongoing need for legal advice or start-ups keen to grow which need a lot of advice with that. “Those in the middle are the real battleground for us as they are the most difficult area to try to land. “We are driven by trying to replicate what an in-house lawyer can do and provide a service which is commercially friendly and valuable to our client. “In-house counsels are always stretched. We can help with that and are about to be in contact with general counsels in Scotland and some specific companies in England to ask them to consider our outsourced capability going into the autumn.”

Vialex is looking at expanding its office base into the Midlands and London and franchising possibilities in Europe. Mr Anderson said: “We believe if we can establish the model and market recognition in the brand name then we can use that as a springboard to go elsewhere. “Our first port of call is elsewhere in the UK. The obvious places to go would be Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham or London. We believe there are so many businesses in the Midlands and the South East which could benefit from this arrangement.

“We need to identify another lawyer or lawyers of a similar spirit or kindred mind who have been in their marketplaces 12 to 15 years who would be able to immediately create a foothold and have a client base to tap into. The challenge there is to find the right people.

“Beyond that we have an ambition to take this to foreign fields and the most obvious places to go would be the more sophisticated jurisdictions in mainland Europe. That may be done through franchising.”

At the moment Vialex acts for a small stable of regular clients across the UK including bus builder Alexander Dennis, Dundee online games firm Outplay and Yorkshire-based Quorn producer Marlow Foods.

It also takes on project work for other companies including the likes of AG Barr. Mr Anderson confirmed Vialex, which is not a law firm even, is interested in using alternative business structures (ABS) when the system is introduced to the legal sector in Scotland.

ABS allows non-lawyers to own 49% of a firm and bring in external capital. He added: “We’ve created a regime which allows us to work as if Alternative Business Structures were already in place by not practising in restricted areas. Once it comes in we are interested in becoming an ABS as it will be neater for us to fall into a more obvious regulatory regime.

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