A TECHNOLOGY-driven professional services group is being launched in Scotland with more than £1m of initial backing – and it promises to start by disrupting the Scottish legal scene.
Aberdeins will bring a host of tech developments and innovations to change delivery of legal and other professional services, to better support private clients, lenders and businesses.
While its core will be legal practice, the ambitious group is geared up for rapid expansion by creating and acquiring businesses in professional services areas, including estate agency, property letting, accountancy and financial services.
The firm is the brainchild of one of Scotland’s most progressive lawyers, Rob Aberdein, who oversaw significant growth for Aberdein Considine before becoming the youngest ever equity partner at English legal powerhouse, Walker Morris.
The Aberdeins Board will be made up of a number of big hitters from Scotland’s business community and will be led by Chairman Tom Barrie, the former MD and owner of Currie European.
Mr Aberdein, 40, said: “The Aberdeins name will become an umbrella for a wide range of professional services, done differently. At its core will be legal services, but we are not just launching a law firm, we are about to deliver the biggest shake up to the Scottish legal scene in decades.
“The sector is awash in traditional firms that are top-heavy with partners whose main focus is on maintaining their income, while the work is often delivered by overworked junior staff. A generation of young lawyers no longer find this attractive.
“That’s before you even talk about the clients, who feel almost constant resentment at the perceived arrogance, lack of responsiveness and value for money they get from their legal firms. Many sectors of the profession have an image problem.
“Make no mistake, our intention is to be disruptive and we know that won’t make us popular with everyone. But this is long overdue. Others who promised change have ended up turning into exactly the kind of firm they set out to displace. That won’t happen with Aberdeins.”
He says timing is ideal to use technology to meet the changing demands of ordinary people and small businesses across law and other professional services, to “reflect the 2020s, not the 1950s”. Mr Aberdein, who is Managing Director of the new firm, insists professional services must be far less transactional, with a focus on building long-term, meaningful relationships.
Inspired by tech success stories, he is billing the firm as a mash up of the challenger, app-based bank, Monzo; of Tesla the electric car company headed by billionaire Elon Musk; and of Harvey Specter, the charismatic central character in legal drama, Suits, which launched Meghan Markle’s career.
He added: “When I speak with people about what we want to achieve it is this description that grabs their attention and makes the hair on the back of their necks stand up. Further market research has validated what I’ve always believed – that clients are ready for something different.”
Tech focus will be a key differentiator and the firm will utilise app-based technologies to allow clients to deal with lawyers and other professional services, to access their documents and case files and to easily track real-time progress with the likes of property purchases.
Mr Aberdein added: “We want to be able to communicate very easily with clients and have all of that linked to third party services. Clients want to communicate via WhatsApp and Messenger, yet many lawyers still want to mail out a letter. We’ll be looking to break down the traditional legal process to deliver an experience that’s fit for the 21st Century.”
While launch plans were well-advanced before the pandemic, Mr Aberdein says it accelerated use of technology for older people, strengthening the launch case.
He added: “There used to be a difference between what someone of mature years would expect and what someone younger would want. Pretty much anyone over the age of 40 has bridged any digital gap there might have been, thanks to the pandemic.”
However, he also stresses that there is none of the naivety that often accompanies well-intentioned tech start-ups that believe they will change the world and he added: “A tech start-up just needs a bunch of people sitting at computers coding.
“You can’t do that with a legal practice. Firms have to be compliant with the Law Society of Scotland and meet a lot of regulatory oversight. There is also a lot of bureaucracy, such as the need for insurance, which means carrying costs of quarter of a million pounds from day one.”
With 10 staff and offices in Renfield Street, Glasgow and Rutland Square, Edinburgh, the firm intends rapid expansion, driven by planned acquisition of well-established but under-invested legal firms.
The initial financial target is to achieve a turnover of £10m by the end of 2022. The focus will be on conveyancing, wills and executries, powers of attorney, litigation, debt recovery, family law and accessible corporate law for SMEs.
Further information from the firm’s website, https://www.aberdeins.com/