Citi brokers private equity and law firm talks

Investment bank Citi is reportedly acting as a “conduit” between private equity and law firms in the UK in the run up to the implementation of the Legal Services Act 2007.

The Legal Services Act, which received Royal Assent last October, enables law firms for the first time to secure private or public investment, as well as allowing non-lawyers to compete in the provision of legal services. The act will come into full force in 2011.

Research released earlier in the year carried out by Smith & Williamson said that private equity would be the most likely investors in UK legal firms.

According to the Law Gazette, Citi’s specialist legal group has sent its experts on private equity to meet senior management at a number of the UK’s top legal firm and arranged face-to-face meetings between lawyers and private equity houses.

The report named Clifford Chance as having met with private equity representatives. Slaughter and May, Allen & Overy, Freshfiedls and Linklaters were also named as no commenting on whether they had been involved in the discussions.

The Law Gazette added that Citi had initiated most or all of the meetings and that the bank could itself choose to invest in some of the targets.

In March of this year, UK mid-market private equity firm Lyceum Capital announced that it had recruited three senior advisers as part of a move to tap investment opportunities in the legal services industry in anticipation of deregulation through the Legal Services Act.