Regulation is a growing concern, especially in law firms where the regulatory environment is changing to accommodate alternative business structures.
There is a new approach (outcome focused regulation) to regulating the legal profession as a whole. Clients often seek our advice on regulatory matters, including the making of regulatory reports.
The Legal Services Act provides for investment in and ownership of law firms by non-lawyers for the first time. We have advised many firms preparing for these changes. Our partnership lawyers have advised on venture capital and private equity transactions outside the legal sector, experience which is essential to be able to guide law firms through the challenge of accepting outside investment. Our in depth knowledge of the legal regulatory environment is key to the success of these projects.
An ABS or ‘alternative business structure’ is the term given to law firms that have been approved to have non-lawyer owners. ABSs offer law firms great flexibility in ownership structures, from appointing a senior non-lawyer employee to partnership, or taking outside investment, potentially including a stock market listing. International firms are increasingly using the flexibility of ABSs to better join their international offices together in a single ownership structure.
What matters do I need to report to the SRA and how do I go about this?
Recent rule changes have lowered the threshold at which potential breaches of SRA regulation (in some cases including misconduct by partners and employees of the firm) must be reported. We advise our clients as to whether we consider a report to be necessary and help them to prepare a full and timely report to be made.
What are "reserved legal activities"?
Reserved legal activities include the conduct of litigation, appearing before and addressing a court, probate activities and preparing certain transfer documents relating to land.
An individual or firm who wishes to carry out reserved activities will need to be authorised by the SRA or other legal services regulator, otherwise they will be committing a criminal offence.
However, it is possible to carry out a number of legal services, such as in corporate, M&A, employment and commercial law, without triggering the need to be authorised. We are experienced at advising individuals and firms on what they can do outside of the scope of legal services regulation.
Chambers UK 2020
Chambers UK 2020
Legal 500 2020