SRA licences first three ABS Solicitors
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) today announced that it has licensed its first three alternative business structures (ABS)
Whilst many won’t be surprised that Co-operative Legal Services are one of the first the other two are much smaller firms John Welch and Stammers, and Lawbridge Solicitors Ltd.
Lawbridge Solicitors Ltd is an existing incorporated recognised body, which has just one solicitor/fee earner, Michael Pope. His wife Alison, currently the practice manager, will become a director of the firm with a significant shareholding. The business is based in Sidcup, Kent, with a local client base, and offers a mix of employment work, litigation and commercial/corporate legal services."
Antony Townsend, SRA Chief Executive, said: "We’re delighted to announce the first ABS organisations. This represents a milestone we have been working towards for nearly two years."
"The arrival of ABS should foster a more flexible and innovative market for legal services. By stimulating competition and encouraging innovation, we should see consumers’ experiences enjoy a major boost."
"We’ve had to create a system of authorisation flexible enough to deal with a range of companies with hugely varying corporate structures, but that’s also robust enough to apply the same stringent suitability criteria by which traditional firms are judged.We make no apology for ensuring that the systems we have in place are thorough and in some cases, time-consuming."
Eddie Ryan, Managing Director of Co-operative Legal Services, said: "When the Legal Services Act was first drafted it was envisaged it would enable well-established consumer brands to enter the closed world of legal services. We believe the presence of The Co-operative’s trusted brand and values together with a combination of first class products and services will provide customers with greater accessibility to legal advice and better value for money. That is why we are committed to playing a leading role in this new era by offering straightforward value-for-money legal services, backed by an ethos of social responsibility and a level of protection that can be provided by a diverse, multi-billion pound organisation."
“I would like to congratulate all three practices on being the first to be licensed under the new rules. The Co-operative Group is a well known brand on the high street, with a substantial profile and a strong reputation for ethical business. I’d like to welcome Co-operative Legal Services into the Law Society fold. Lawbridge Solicitors and John Welch and Stammers are existing law firms who have taken an innovative step in adopting new ownership structures.