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Alternative Business Structure (ABS) Friend or Foe?

ABS’s are soon going to hit our streets; they are advertised as being “simpler, cheaper and more accessible legal services for consumers”. Is that going to prove to be a reality?

Are local governments and private companies going to look at whether they can turn their in-house team into a commercial entity? High street firms and sole practitioners have shown increasing concern that this de-regulation of the legal sector can only end in disaster but will it also bring with it opportunity for some. 

How is it going to affect you?

I think employment lawyers would all agree that they have been competing against non-lawyers for a long time and we are still here :). Though I think there may be some mileage in the argument that the advantage that firms have previously had (and which may soon be eroded by the ABS) is that they have had company/commercial departments so everything could be dealt with under one roof. 
I would love to hear views from other lawyers and how they think they will be affected.

Opportunity for some?

For some of us the ABS is going to bring opportunity as non-lawyers are now going to be allowed (subject to SRA authorisation) to be managers and owners of legal services – allowing firms that are struggling against the harsh economic environment to raise equity from a wider pool of investors. 
The ABS will also allow entrepreneurial lawyers to team up with non-lawyers to run successful companies and practices. After all we have all heard the saying that a “lawyer is not a business man”. 

The future of legal services
Only time will tell how the ABS will be used and whether it will only be multi-national corporations who are going to be taking advantage of the deregulation. But I think one thing is for certain high street firms are going to have no choice but to come into the 21st Century and invest in technology particularly in case management systems if they want to survive.

I believe there will always be value in the brand “solicitor” however value is earned so lawyers who do not return client’s call’s, who fail to keep their clients updated and who fail to adhere to deadlines may soon find that they are no longer seeing return business or being recommended.

Samira Cakali

Samira Cakali is a pragmatic and approachable solicitor advocate with extensive contentious and non-contentious experience in the fields of employment law as well as civil litigation, within a range of commercial businesses from SME’s to multinationals as well as senior executives.

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