Alternative Business Structures

Leverage your brand or organisation through an ABS

An ABS (Alternative Business Structure) is effectively a joint-venture between a law firm and an external organisation, which provides legal services.

The Legal Services Act 2007 made it possible for non-lawyers to own or hold senior management positions in law firms. It also paved the way for organisations to form Alternative Business Structures in partnership with law firms.


How can an ABS benefit your organisation and your customers?

In the past, non-legal organisations couldn't provide legal services under their own brand name without partnering with an external law firm, effectively in a supplier-customer relationship. For many organisations this approach worked, but for those wanting control and consistency in the legal services they offered, this approach had its limitations.

If you want to provide legal services to your customers, an ABS allows you to be part your own branded law firm, with a greater degree of control and input over the running of the firm than you would have if you worked with an external law firm. An ABS allows you to build long-term plans for your legal service, in the knowledge that the core of the business will be relatively stable over time.

What sort of organisations could benefit from an ABS?

Any company that could benefit from adding a legal service to complement their core product, may find value in starting an ABS. Running an ABS is a long-term commitment, so it's important to be sure that the demand for legal services from your customers will be there for the foreseeable future.

An ABS generally works best for organisations with a large customer base of relatively similar customers, such as a membership organisation or a financial services provider. However, there are no hard and fast rules as to who can and can't be part of one. If you feel that a legal service would complement your existing product or service, you should explore the idea further for your business.

Alternatively, you may be a law firm from outside the UK, looking to enter the UK market or offer cross-border services. An ABS is a relatively quick way of achieving this, as you would be working alongside UK-qualified lawyers as part of the newly-formed organisation.

How do I explore starting an ABS?

If you think that an ABS may be appropriate for your organisation, we're happy to discuss the possibilities with you. We have a track record of running successful ABS legal services and among other things, we can advise you on the following:

  • How to set up and structure the ABS to meet your strategic objectives , balancing risk and reward
  • How to structure operations to meet regulatory requirements
  • Gaining regulatory approval from the Solicitors Regulation Authority
  • TUPE advice for any existing staff transferring to the ABS
  • Launching the ABS and its services
  • We can provide advice or a turnkey service for ABS development and launch

For a confidential discussion to explore the appropriateness of an ABS for your organisation, contact us to arrange a meeting and we'll provide the expertise and experience you need to get started. 

pexels-christina-morillo-1181343 (1)