Friday, September 10, 2010

Update on Alternative Business Structures in the UK

This year we've tracked several updates regarding moves by various jurisdictions to allow alternative business structures. See posts: here and here for background on the UK's path to allowing non-lawyers to hold ownership stakes in law firms. These arrangements will likely create new opportunities, and new (and perhaps unexpected) risk and compliance challenges for law firms.

This week, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), which originally published ABS guidance in July 2009 and offers extensive resources on its web site, emphasized that it would not bow to pressure from law firms to let them enter into these arrangements prior to 6 October 2011, the previously-authorized date for enactment of new ABS rules and regulations will take effect.

Instead, the SRA reminded firms that they can still discuss, negotiate and design alternative business structures -- doing everything but putting them into effect or entering into binding agreements.

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