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Keith Anderson

Solicitors rethink legal charges

CHARGING by the hour is as much a part of the legal establishment as powdered wigs and pin-striped suits.

But a new firm in Edinburgh run by two former Dickson Minto solicitors has turned the legal fees concept on its head by offering clients fixed-priced services and rolling contracts.

Staff from Vialex are, in effect, acting as “outsourced in-house” commercial lawyers for their customers, offering advice on issues from corporate finance to acquisitions.

Big-name clients already using its services include bus builder Alexander Dennis, soup and sauce maker Baxters Food Group and London-based marketing firm BD Network, which has worked with the likes of Coca-Cola, Nintendo and Peugeot.

Keith Anderson retired from front-line work at Dickson Minto in spring 2009, but instead of becoming a non-executive director, he decided to work as a consultant.

Demand for his services – spending time working in clients’ offices or remotely at a set price – led him to launch Vialex.

Anderson has just taken on Keith Dinsmore, who trained under him and who has spent the past two-and-a-half years as a partner at international law firm DLA Piper.

The pair spent around ten years working together at Dickson Minto and now have plans to expand Vialex beyond the Central Belt.

Anderson said: “We think Vialex is a brand that could work throughout the UK and even on the continent. Expanding like that will depend on finding the right people, who share our methods.”

Dinsmore added: “Since the financial crisis in 2008 there’s been a demand out there among clients for agreeing set fees with their legal advisers.

“I came across that demand while I was still working at DLA Piper, hence my interest when Keith approached me.”

The pair are preparing themselves for changes to the rules that will allow Scottish law firms to adopt alternative business structures (ABS).

Legislation from Holyrood will allow non-lawyers to own stakes in legal businesses, opening the door for “multi-disciplinary practices” featuring accountants, tax advisers and other professionals under the one roof.

Anderson has already registered the Vialex name for use in such ABS situations, including Vialex Tax Advisors and Vialex Corporate Finance Services.

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