The procedural issues which prevented the introduction of ABS on 6 October, when solicitors will become subject to principles-based regulation, are expected to have been overcome by the end of the year, and potential entrants to the market are continuing to identify themselves. A few updates:
The Co-op are trialling combined legal and financial services in branches of Britannia Bank.
Slater & Gordon, the Australian law firm which was the first law firm in the world to go public, has signalled its interest in the UK market and perceives personal injury work as a particular area of opportunity. S&G plans include “aggressively developing family law and private client services practices by the introduction of innovative service offerings and potentially by acquisition building a network of medium-sized firms in the mid-market, SME and high net-worth client segments”. It is targeting over the next five to 10 years to consolidate 15 to 20 member UK firms, which will retain their branding and continue to run their businesses as they were previously doing, but with “strategic, financial and risk management boundaries”.
Although different legislative parameters apply in Scotland, SIFA member Turcan Connell has stated its intention to formalise its inter-disciplinary status. Significantly, in the light of the current uncertainty as to the future status of Authorised Professional Firms, Turcan Connell favours the introduction of capital adequacy for firms providing legal services which are not wholly owned by solicitors.
We are now in the final run-in to a new regulatory regime from 6 October (just a month away), with ABS probably following before the end of the year, but maybe early in 2012.
There won’t be a “Big Bang” change when ABS arrives, but the next 3 years will be critical for all law firms, during which time we are likely to see a wider variety of businesses providing legal services in many different ways, allowing more choice for consumers with different needs – although we agree that some consumers could well suffer in some areas.
Lawyers need to introduce improvements now to enable lawyers and their teams to do more for less, which is good for both you and for your clients.Independent, objective and experienced support can help most legal practices produce results on new initiatives faster, more effectively and with confidence when the areas that many could be addressing include:
IT – getting more from current systems, selecting new ones, considering different support options to reduce costs
Conveyancing – generating more business, improving fees, making systems more efficient
Exit routes, succession, mergers – to make sure you can get money out of the business when you want to retire
Finances – finding ways to improve financial performance
Professional Indemnity – where we have access to options for firms of all sizes
Compliance – getting systems in place and working to ensure SRA compliance
Generating more business – Key account management, business intelligence, CRM systems
Reducing operating costs by streamlining the business
Restructuring your business or how your teams work to improve skills, performance and profits
New business strategies – to build a stronger business and target new opportunities