Island Life Magazine Ltd October/November 2011 - Page 30

PROPERTY LEGAL ISSUES with Terence Willey & Company Will ABS’s make a difference to the consumer of legal services? You may well ask what is an ABS? As from October 6 this year law firms will be entitled to give consideration to seeking a Licence to become what is to be known as an “Alternative Business Structure”, subject to fulfilling certain criteria during the course of registration. I was fortunate enough to serve, by appointment, The Clementi Review Committee for my own Statutory and Regulative Body being The Council for Licensed Conveyancers. It was Sir David Clementi who was very keen to offer law firms the opportunity for better motivation and career prospects to their professional Managers, Directors of Finance and Human Resources, marketing and technology. Furthermore the opportunity to share in the ownership of firms as outlined in the Legal Services Bill. This new approach was to become known within the profession as “Tesco Law” out of a conception of the prospect of large and well known brands entering into the legal services market. Legal Services Co-operatives are already in place to provide Conveyancing and Will writing services in particular. Due consideration will have to be given by outside investors who wish to join in such ownership of such legal practices whether or not such investment would be beneficial in the longer term, as there would be no financial advantage in the short term. There will be obvious risks and mistakes made in respect of the control of management and the reputation of legal services so offered under such new branding. My personal concerns have always been, and will remain such, that the packaging of legal services with the involvement of other professionals has tended to have a serious effect on the general service to the client. This being due mainly to the fact that the emphasis is more on cost cutting by creating central processing units undertaken by unqualified staff who in the main are motivated by turnover. Private and small Practices around the Country quite understandably are expressing concerns as to being able to retain a share of the market. There will never be any substitute for good personal and accessible service to a client and I believe clients will always value this above all alternatives. As far as ABS’s are concerned they will, in my view, only succeed by balancing efficiency with good personal and accessible support to the client, otherwise such structures will inevitably fail in the longer term. Terence Willey & Company., Lawyers and Commissioners for Oaths (incorporating Malcolm Daniells & Company and The Bembridge Law Practice) Contact Terence Willey 01 983 875859 or Mark Willey 01983 611888 30