All 250 solicitors and employees of Midlands firm Blakemores, owner of the consumer brand Lawyers2you, were told yesterday to clear their desks and go home.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority had intervened ‘in order to protect the interests of clients (or former or potential clients), or the interests of the beneficiaries of any trust of which Blakemores Solicitors LDP or any of the partners of Blakemores Solicitors LDP is or was a trustee’.
Practising certificates have not been suspended. The fast-growing firm appears to be the latest casualty of the shrinking personal injury sector.
Blakemores was founded in 1961 by Roger Blakemore to specialise in conveyancing. In 2002 managing partner Guy Barnett (pictured) led the firm through a major expansion, which included setting up Lawyers2you stands at more than 20 public-facing sites including airports and shopping centres.
The SRA has appointed an agent, Neal Boland of Stephensons Solicitors LLP, to deal with all matters currently held by Blakemores. The agent will assess all ongoing matters and deal with those of greatest need first.
The SRA’s archive team will take control of all documents held by the firm. It is understood Blakemores is one of the biggest firms to require SRA intervention in terms of client account amounts, live and archived files and number of staff.
Law Society president Lucy Scott-Moncrieff said: “We are saddened to hear of the failure of Blakemores. We are already working with Birmingham Law Society to support solicitors and trainees at Blakemores. We plan to make more details available in the next 24 hours.
“We will also seek to assist the Legal Services Commission and the SRA to help orchestrate the orderly transfer of client cases to other law firms.
“This and recent similar cases dramatically illustrate the pressures on so many parts of the profession — the obvious pressures on PI and legal aid practitioners are to the forefront.
“The Law Society will later this week announce a source of information and guidance that solicitors and trainees worried about the viability of their firms will be able to refer to for help and advice.”
Blackmores was not a CQS accredited firm.