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Number of ABSs Surpasses 300

More than 300 firms have now obtained a licence to become an alternative business structure (ABS).

The number of ABSs registered by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) stands at 267, while those with a licence issued by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers stand at 41, bringing the total to 308.

One of the latest companies to take the ABS path is a major business support services provider that has built a presence in many countries across the globe. Also among the firms recently granted ABS status is a multi-disciplinary business services company, as well as a virtual law firm and a personal injury practice.

Companies have various reasons behind their decision to become an ABS, according to a research among firms that have chosen this business model. Some 23% of ABSs say they wanted to promote a non-lawyer to the management of their company, while 22% simply needed to comply with a regulatory requirement to convert from a legal disciplinary practice (LDP) or a multi-disciplinary practice (MDP).

The results from the survey, published by the Legal Services Board (LSB) earlier in April and presented at the Social-Legal Studies Association (SLSA) 2014 conference, also showed that 19% of ABSs chose the model in order to gain access to external investment for service development. Another 8% said that becoming an ABS was part of an organisational restructure and 5% cited ensuring tax efficiency as the main factor behind their decision.