Zoe Holland, managing director & solicitor at Zebra Legal Consulting on why she established the business and what the future holds
I initially came out of law firm private practice following the diagnosis of my daughter’s serious medical condition. Partnership in a law firm did not lend itself to flexibility. I entered the world of legal consultancy to enable work/life flexibility. This was the most rewarding decision I have ever made as it opened a world of opportunity and a ‘blank book’ giving me the ability to think creatively.
In the early stages, I saw the opportunity to establish a business that would be flexible around the hospital regime and also had potential to thrive in a changing legal market. With new entrants, growing issues around professional indemnity insurance, and an increasing spotlight from mainstream banking about law firm funding, the opportunity to develop technical due diligence was tangible. Zebra Legal Consulting (Zebra LC) was established in December 2012; a modern legal hub providing unique technical due diligence for the legal sector with a flexible business structure.
I am proud to have created a unique niche business. I have used my technical legal skills, management experience and flair for business to create a specialist market in technical auditing for due diligence and financial/technical risk profiling in all areas of legal service. We are now established and recognised as a full service due diligence business. 18 months ago, this niche did not exist anywhere in the market. I have refocused my skills as a solicitor. Zebra comprises a team of 40 specialist lawyers, barristers and costs experts who use their legal skills in a new way to carry out meticulous technical due diligence reports.
The business has grown by way of a virtual network of highly acclaimed lawyers and barristers, who work as part of the Zebra team as technical auditors of WIP value and operational risk. This includes Legal 500 and Chambers rated specialists. Our team is totally discreet and as such we do not openly publicise individual members. Projects are highly sensitive and confidential.
Zebra LC is a law firm management and technical due diligence consulting firm dedicated to helping legal practices and key legal stakeholders (such as banks and insurers) embrace the changing legal landscape. Zebra’s approach is to help law firms adapt, and evolve to remain competitive, profitable and risk aware.
Zebra has a national reputation as a technical due diligence specialist assessing law firm WIP value and WIP risk profiling. I was delighted to be named as Outstanding Innovator of the Year (2014) at the recent Claims Innovation Awards. Quindell’s commercial director, Chris Shaw, referred to our work as “brilliant.“ That is a humbling accolade to receive from your peers. We were noted for making “a big contribution in a short period of time, showing creativity and an eye for an opportunity by founding a business that is committed to innovation in legal services.”
Zebra’s advice and specialist reports (which includes areas such as personal injury, crime and property due diligence) are often the starting point for business improvement, funding options and acquisition opportunities together with merger, sale and expansion plans. Only recently the firm acted as technical due diligence advisor in the high profile £15 million acquisition of multi-service law firm Simpson Millar by the AIM listed financial services group Fairpoint Group PLC.
Zebra is increasingly instructed to assist firms with funding. Bank clients include HSBC, NatWest and Yorkshire Bank. Last month, we advised in the £3 million funding provided to niche serious injury firm, Hilary Meredith Solicitors, based in London and Manchester.
In December 2012, we started with three consultants and myself as MD. This has grown to a national consultant network of 40 specialists, all trained within our core methodology. Our virtual model network means that fixed costs overheads are low. The company has kept true to its modern innovative structure and has invested in technology to develop a business collaboration platform called the “ZEBRA HUB.”
Zebra was named New Entrant of the Year 2013 at the Modern Law Awards. Earlier this month, we were named Best New Business at the Women in Business Awards held in Manchester by Downtown Manchester In Business. The awards are designed to recognise female entrepreneurs, business owners and decision makers based in and around Manchester. The line up of winners from inspiring women included winners from leading professional services businesses such as Baker Tilly, Shoosmiths, JMW and Duff and Phelps.
Our national coverage continues to grow and with increasing projects from both banks and new entrant investors, the future is exciting. It was recently pointed out to me that a herd of zebras is known as a dazzle; a fitting expression for a business that is recognised for innovation and is growing fast. It would not be possible without the team within Zebra. I am supported by professional and highly skilled individuals who are passionate about what we do and what our business is trying to achieve.