Thursday 21 July 2011

Only Connect

The current issue of Internet Newsletter for Lawyers (July/August 2011) carries a feature on Connect2Law, the referral service for solicitors established ten years ago by Pannone LLP and the primary benefit of which -- as Delia Venables explains -- is "to offer member firms the ability to service their clients in areas of law they didn't undertake themselves by referring them to Pannone". There are now some 20 "hub" firms that replicate, in their respective geographical areas, the services offered by Pannone in North West England. Referring firms receive back from the hub firm a proportion of the fee of up to 10% and the protection of clients is underpinned by a no-poaching clause.

There's nothing on the Connect2Law website that indicates which areas of law are covered, though presumably soft intellectual property is likely to be covered even if highly specialist areas such as patent litigation may not be.

I was wondering whether readers of this weblog have any experience of Connect2Law and, if so, what they feel about it.


  1. My experience with the scheme would not encourage me to join, low quality, lots of prep with little return.

  2. I am an independent consultant to a law practice which is part of the Connect2Law group and as part of that relationship I get passed any IP law matters that get sent to that practice (which I then white label as that firm). Generally the quality of the referrals is low and the clients are seeking “cheap” rather than “quality”. Of the 8 referrals in the past 9 months only 1 turned into a paying job (trademark application made by the client direct faced oppositions) and that petered out when the costs exceeded £1000 (even though I had estimated more than that sum) as the client decided not to spend any more money on the application. I am often asked by referrals whether they are entitled to “Legal Aid” and as the scheme requires you to telephone the potential client they then ask for “free initial interview/advice”. I have been approached to join the scheme directly several times but do not feel that it would be a good source of work. The clients are mostly referred by other small local solicitors (conveyancing or general high street practices, once by a criminal law practice – car booter caught with counterfeit goods). I may just have had an aberrational experience but that is my experience of the scheme.

  3. I have been against counsel instructed by Pannone over the years on IP matters including patents and have even been consulted by them though not recently. I see lawyers from that firm at IP events in Manchester. They took over March Pearson & Skelton which had a good reputation for IP in Manchester some years ago.

    On another grouping of law firms, I can say that Jackson Canter, one of the member firms of Quality Solicitors, has acquired Michael Sandys from Kirwans. You will remember him, Jeremy, from the IPCEX event at Liverpool at which you spoke in 2007. Michael is very highly regarded as an IP specialist in the North having been gained his IP experience with Halliwells and Cobbetts. At both firms he instructed me in some reported cases. I am doing a talk for him and his colleagues on the Patents County Court in September.

  4. As a sole practitioner operating an independent specialist IP firm I came under a lot of pressure to join a local hub a year or two ago.

    The virtue of the hub, so they say, is that if you have a query in your 'non-specialist' area you can call someone at the hub as if they were just 'along the corridor' and you can refer work to someone you know if the query can not be resolved in a single call. You can also participate in their training seminars etc and gain CPD points - if you are short of them.

    As a specialist practice, however, I very rarely have work to refer outside the IP field. Moreover, as the hub offers an IP service (although not by specialist practitioners as far as I can ascertain)the chances of any quality IP work being referred to my firm is very slim.

    With regard to the training seminars, from the information I received these tend to be very general in nature and addressed to an audience of general practice solicitors with little or no specialist knowledge and so are less appealing than the myriad of very high quality (IP)seminars available.

    Whilst in principle Connect2Law seems a good idea, like the previous commentators, I have yet to be convinced of its merits for the specialist practitioner.

  5. Really interesting to see all the feedback in relation to Connect2Law, as they say any feedback can be used as positive feedback and we will certainly take this on board. I am a Business Development Manager for Connect2Law at Pannone & fear that the comments slightly miss the essence of the scheme.

    Connect2Law is unlike other networks in that it is not a scheme created to generate referrals for its members. Yes work is passed out but that is only in the areas not covered by the Hub firm who runs the scheme in their region. If firms wish to join a work generating network then there are others in the market that are more suited.

    Connect2Law is also very different to most networks in that it is free to join and there are no ongoing membership costs.

    Connect2Law, enables law firms both large & small to market themselves as full service law firms and capture work in areas the don't by sending this to the Hub firm receive a fee-share and safe in the knowledge that they will retain the client for there specific areas of work instead of going down the road to a rival and losing the client forever. This alone is a reason that many of our current over 2,300 members have joined.

    Alongside this Connect2Law try and provide as many support benefits to there members as possible. These as listed on the Connect2Law website and are constantly being added to and enhanced. Some of the benefits may not suit all there will be at least some that will add benefit to most law firms.

    So in short, don't see Connect2Law as a work generator but as an opportunity (if needed) to being able to service your clients in the full range of legal services through accessing the legal service offerings of the Connect2Law hub firms, combined with offering a wide range of support services for law firms. If you want to generate leads then Connect2Law isn't for you and you can pay some other network to do some marketing on your behalf.
    I am more than happy to have a chat with anybody on here if they would like more information about the scheme.

    My direct dial is 0161-909-1557.

    Kind regards,

  6. Thanks Mike
    You seem to have designed an excellent model that permits solicitors acting as a sole legal point of contact for their community to do the job without getting into areas beyond their expertise.
    Most of this community markets itself as specialists in IP - there is often a need to offer ancillary business support as indeed Hargreaves suggested. In terms of legal support many live as I do in areas where there are plenty of lawyers in the market.