We have been talking about the ABS and its effects on to the legal industry at large for some time now. However, the actual race full of obstacles which the law firms today need to run at is less talked about. What to do, how to do and when to do is the top thought of the day.
The most affected from this are the private client practice law firms. This means that law firms dealing with wills & estates, conveyancing, immigration, Family laws etc get to feel the brunt of this maximum.
We need to understand the ABS has three sides – the good, bad and the ugly.
The Good – The Law Society of England & Wales has always been in favor of promoting open market, choice and competition in the legal market and the alternative business structure just makes that more stronger as the ABS comes as one of the most suited models for the future legal services market. Let’s also acknowledge the fact that the budding lawyers will have more choices in terms of their careers.
The Bad – the ownership of legal services, which was so far restricted to lawyers, has now changed and now it’s open to one and all.
The Ugly – the law firms which were anyways surviving the ever existing competition successfully are managing their ways out with this radical change and will continue to do so. It is the smaller and mid size firms who are feeling the impact of this change. While one cannot replace a solicitor’s advice to that off a non-solicitor, the commoditised legal services like conveyancing, wills & estates etc can be easily and are being taken over by the new Tesco’s and ASDAs in town.
The downside of ABSs creating new opportunities in to the market in terms of jobs is that non lawyers will also enjoy the same or similar benefits as a lawyer in some cases.
The Management of a law firms now needs to be on their toes to do some effective business planning. Solicitors need to wear many hats at the same time in order to beat this change. In no way can we say that the traditional ways of practice are bad but we surely need to make modifications in the ways of practice looking in to the changing trends. It is very truly said, that "If you are not riding the waves of change – you’ll find yourself beneath them."