Will-writing and property firms bring ABS total to seven
Two niche firms specialising in will-writing and property respectively have become the latest two organisations to be accepted as alternative business structures (ABSs).
Parchment Group, based in Buckinghamshire, and three-partner firm Plainlaw, based in Oxfordshire, had their applications confirmed this week by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). The granted licences bring to seven the number of ABSs regulated by the SRA, with around 100 more at stage two of the application process.
Parchment was a founder member of the Institute of Professional Willwriters and is the first non-solicitor firm to be granted the ABS licence by the SRA. Plainlaw, which specialises in property, housing and construction law, has an associated ‘corporate member’, Plainlaw.biz Ltd. Under the conditions of the licence, the sole purpose of Plainlaw.biz is to hold an interest in the licensed body and it cannot be held out as providing any type of legal service.
Head of legal practice Philip Horn must be paid any profit share directly and not through Plainlaw.biz.
Horn said the ABS licence ‘gives us additional flexibility in terms of structuring our business going forward. Our interest in the concept of ABS is driven more by the potential it offers us for the future, than by our current circumstances (where we not intending any immediate change).
‘Our focus will remain on providing a City of London-style real estate service but at provincial fee rates. We have developed a niche in providing an on-demand real estate support service to other leading law firms, many of whom will themselves be considering the benefits of converting to ABS status.’
Parchment, founded in 1989, has since branched out from will-writing to include lasting powers of attorney, probate and inheritance tax planning.