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A mid-market private equity fund with £255 million to spend has become the first investment house to say it is actively targeting the legal sector ahead of radical changes that will allow law firms to take on outside investment for the first time.

A mid-market private equity fund with £255 million to spend has become the first investment house to say it is actively targeting the legal sector ahead of radical changes that will allow law firms to take on outside investment for the first time.

Lyceum Capital — whose previous investments include Asquith Nurseries and Southern Cross, the healthcare group — says it is already talking to several law firms and has begun designing investment structures to capitalise on opportunities arising from the Legal Services Act 2007.

Described as the equivalent of the City of London’s “Big Bang” deregulation in 1986, the Act will allow law firms to sell themselves to private equity or other investors or float on a stock exchange from 2011.

Lyceum, which closed a £255 million investment fund last week, has also hired three high-profile figures from the legal world including Tony Williams, a management consultant who was formerly managing partner of Clifford Chance, the world’s largest law firm by revenue.

Mr Williams will join Lyceum’s legal industry advisory board alongside Paul Hewitt, who helped establish the legal services arms of the Co-Operative Bank and the RAC, and Richard Susskind, an IT specialist and well-known adviser to the legal profession.

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