Invicta Law, the alternative business structure (ABS) being set up by Kent County Council, is expected to launch formally at the beginning of June.
The vast majority of the approximately 150 staff at Kent Legal Services are transferring to the ABS and will next week move to new offices at Priory Gate (pictured below) in Maidstone.
The county council will retain a small commissioning team, headed by Ben Watts who was recently appointed as Kent’s general counsel permanently after acting in an interim capacity. This team will manage the contract and relationship between the local authority and Invicta Law.
Commenting on the forthcoming launch, Geoff Wild, chief executive of Invicta Law, said: “The last year has been a whirlwind of activity, but we can now see the fruits of all our hard work and preparation.
“Don’t underestimate the sheer amount of effort, hard work and change, including cultural change, involved – it is massive, but hugely rewarding.”
The start date of the ABS licence granted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority is 1 April, but Wild said the launch of Invicta Law would take place two months later.
This period is to allow the team to work with Peppermint Technology on implementation of its Microsoft dynamic client relationship management (CRM) system.
“This system is built around the customer and that’s really what we want the practice to stand for,” Wild said. “It’s not going to be a traditional law firm in many ways.”
Wild said a number of key appointments have been made. They include:
- Hedley Mayor, Director of Finance
- James Pigott, Director of Compliance
- Keith Martin, Head of Business Development
- Chris Lane, Chief Technology Officer
Kent Legal Services has in the meantime been appointed to a dynamic purchasing system (DPS) for legal services set up by Places for People, one of the largest property management, development and regeneration providers in the UK.
Kent will be one of the national providers of employment law advice under the DPS, which is the first of its kind and will be made available to housing and public sector organisations throughout the UK. The DPS has an estimated value of between £500,000 and £5m.
Commenting on the appointment, Wild said: “This is great news for our business. We specifically targeted the Employment Law Lot because public sector employment law is one of our real strengths.
“The good thing about the DPS model is that we can apply for any of the other Lots at any time. Now we’re on board, we can start to align our service offerings to the specific needs of Places for People’s customers and collaborate with them to build on this positive start to our relationship.”
Last September Kent County Council announced ambitious targets for revenue growth for the ABS. The aim was to grow turnover from £10.8m to £11.3m in Year 1, £17.8m in Year 5 and £29.8m in Year 10.
On this expansion, Wild said: “The public sector is where our roots and strengths are, and where we see the greatest potential. This is the public sector in the widest sense and includes central government, non-departmental public bodies, quangos, educational institutions, health bodies and the like. It is a very broad sector but their legal needs are remarkably generic.”
But Wild stressed that Invicta Law would also be opening its doors to organisations in other areas, such as SMEs and charities.
“We don’t underestimate the level of competition in what is a congested market but our systems, processes and expertise means we have a very strong offering,” he suggested.
On the experience of setting up a local authority-owned ABS, Wild said: “If there’s one message, it is that preparation and implementation are key.
“It is the real world now and there is a lot of responsibility. But I would not have got into this without being convinced of its potential and ability to achieve.”