Claire Smith – partner at Connect2Law discusses their services & what the benefits are for law firms around the UK…

Connect2Law is the UK’s leading legal referral and support network, operated by law firms, for law firms. It was established in 2001 by Pannone LLP, Manchester, as a "Hub and Spoke" network to enable member law firms to refer work to a central Hub that they were unable to carry out for their client. This could be for reasons of geography, funding or expertise.

The key benefits at the start of the scheme were to provide a fee share to member firms for the referral of such work but also a written non-poaching agreement. This was to protect the member firm and ensure their clients were not poached. Ten years on, these key benefits remain at the heart of what we do.

Since its launch, Connect2Law has grown significantly, the benefits have increased and the membership in the North West now stands at 730 member firms. In 2004, the scheme was franchised and there are now 20 pedigree firms – or Hubs - operating across the UK. The franchise launch came about because we needed to ensure clients could access advice within their own region – especially as it was not always possible to serve member firms or their clients around the country from Pannone. The full list of Hubs can be viewed on our website but they include; Andrew Jackson, Crutes, Mayo Wynne Baxter, Nelsons, O'Reilly Stewart (Northern Ireland) and Trethowans. We also have coverage in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

The main advantage of the Hub network is that clients can access the right advice from the right lawyer within 24 hours - but usually on the same day. The Hubs also meet regularly to discuss additional benefits for member firms and consider what further value can be added.

The key objectives of Connect2Law remain the same; it’s all about offering support to members enabling them to retain their independence and client base but with the ability to offer clients access to a full range of legal services. In addition to the non poaching agreement, the main benefits we also offer are a fee share on cases accepted which creates an additional income stream, a free enquiry line, a comprehensive marketing toolkit along with compliance, training and support. In addition, Connect2Law is a completely free scheme with no joining or annual membership fees.

Membership also provides access to bespoke professional indemnity insurance from Hannover which has been taken up by over 500 firms this year alone. There is also the option of tapping into Lexcel services, together with heavily discounted CPD courses, free in-house training and the option to utilise a wide range of consultancy, services; including CostController - a buying group which saves money on core overheads.

We’re pleased to say that it’s not just us who shout about our service as David Hayhurst, partner at 174 Law Solicitors in Birkenhead, explains; ‘We have been very impressed with our membership of the Connect2Law network. CPD seminars have been excellent and the Annual Conference was most useful and thought provoking. All partners in the firm will be encouraged to attend the next conference. We now have a back up service which we find invaluable, and with "add on" benefits, such as Professional Indemnity Insurance arrangements, we can begin to create real savings for the firm.’

After 10 successful years, the whole Connect2Law team is more focused than ever on building the network and its influence!