Like them or loathe them, (ABS’s) Alternative Business Structures are here to stay. Like an invisible tattoo on the forehead of every member of the legal profession, you may not be able to see them on yourself, but just look into the mirror of life.
So, you’ve decided that you are going to embrace Alternative Business Structures. The cold fact is that you have no alternative.
David Taylor, the chairman of the Membership Board of the Law Society addressed the Minority Lawyers Conference in Chancery Lane where the liberalization of legal services was being widely discussed. He said, “These reforms cannot be ignored. In five years’ time, legal practices of all types are going to look very different with the introduction of Alternative Business Structures” He continued “If solicitors are going to thrive, they need to be active participants in the future.” He chose his words precisely.
He referred to the Alternative Business Structure reforms set out by David Clementi. He further indicated that the restricted availability of finance to businesses indicated reluctance in venture capital firms to invest in legal practices. In short, you are viewed as a bad risk.
He highlighted the fact that many firms may seek external capital by bringing in solicitors with other skills into their partnership, but others see Alternative Business Structures as the devil’s work. He went on to say that Solicitors have everything to play for.
Reference was made to the belief that many solicitors will be driven out of work by the provision of legal services at less than the actual cost. But he said, “They wouldn’t be able to recoup their losses because other suppliers would move in to undercut them” (e.g. Tesco).
However at that very same session, David McGrady claimed that the Institute of Legal Executives had most to gain from Alternative Business Structures. He further commented that Legal Executives have been supported by ILEX in their application to be given independent rights in areas of Criminal Law, Civil Law, probate and conveyancing.
All in all the future of solicitors will be probably far different and more radical than all of the speakers actually realise. No more will the administration and interpretation of the law of the land remain the privilege of the few. Alternative Business Structures are about to become as different within the next few years as it differs today from the law of the fifteenth century.
As most firms now look at their work flow dwindle and most having, at best, 18 months left in the pipeline i compare solicitors now looks like a very viable investment option pre the introduction of Alternative Business Structures.
Within our lives we will remember with some agitation ‘the way it used to be’. Change and you will prosper. Dwell in the past and you will remain in the past.
Alternative Business Structures are here to stay.
There is no life today for yesterday; fact. Get used to it!