UK Alternative Business Structures for Legal Practice: Emerging Models and Lessons for the US
48 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2016
Date Written: March 31, 2016
Alternative Business Structure (ABS) law firms in the United Kingdom allow for non-lawyer owners and investors. This Article analyzes several new U.K. ABS law firms and offers an optimistic assessment of the benefits of these new firm models. ABS firms have created systems that improve legal services for the target clients and have mitigated the negative aspects of lawyer-centric thinking that pervades many traditional firms. ABS firm structure has provided access to capital to allow for investment in employee development and creative use of technology. The ABS form has brought some unregulated activities under the control of regulators and created the possibility of linking legal services to other socially-conscious pro-consumer service providers. Risks emerging from these early entrants into the ABS form include a concern about whether the public aspects of lawyering, such as public oriented duties to improve the legal system and offer pro bono services, become lost in a dominant corporate and client centered model. If so, a regulatory response may be required to correct this imbalance.
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