Will Alternative Business Structures improve legal services?

Published: 30/03/2012

Heralded as the “biggest change to the provision of legal services in our lifetime”, there is naturally much hype around alternative business structure. But will the reality live up to all the anticipation? Will ABSs enhance the legal services sector?

One of the primary aims of Alternative Business Structures is make legal services much more accessible and simple. There remains an unshakable stereotype surrounding solicitors; one that paints a legal professional as somewhat arrogant and rather unapproachable.

Whilst in many cases such a typecast is totally unjust, the fact remains that many are unnerved by the thought of conversing with a solicitor as Professor Stephen Mayson, Director of The Legal Services Institute has commented:

“Some clients, some consumer groups think that legal services are too difficult to access and are too difficult to use, and we should make it easier for them. Alternative Business Structures could be part of that solution.”

Alternative business structures are designed to quash this trepidation felt by consumers. By enabling lawyers and non-lawyers to share the management and control of a business providing legal services, the hope is everyone will have access to legal help they require. The increase in competition is also expected to drive down costs and quell the misconception that employing the services of a qualified legal professional is going to end in a big bill.

There is some worry whether the introduction of alternative business structures could devalue the industry and see consumer receiving less than adequate legal advice. However one of the prerequisite of an ABS is there must be at least one qualified lawyer employed within it, thus safeguarding the high standards these services are required to provide.

Content correct at time of publication

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