Two recent opinion pieces – ‘How dare lawyers want control of their own business’ (15 June) and ‘Keeping the family silver’ (19 June) – take issue with the findings of research into alternative business structures and levels of investment in legal services published recently by the Legal Services Board.
The articles do not reflect either the substance of the research or how such research is intended to help inform the profession as it develops a range of business models.
Research into the ways ABSs source their finance does not mean the LSB is expecting or indeed ‘prescribing’ changes to the way that legal businesses are run. Instead, it is about gathering evidence on the different opportunities for legal businesses to access alternative sources of finance beyond debt and to have greater flexibility in types of ownership. Not every legal business will need or want to use all these varied sources of finance. But for some, they offer alternative routes to financial sustainability, business growth and service innovation.
Our research also showed that while there are few regulatory barriers to investment, nonetheless there is a low level of external investment in the legal services sector. There may of course be a number of reasons for this. The reference to one potential consideration, namely the competitive state of the sector, is not simply an assertion by us but refers to the findings of the Competition and Markets Authority which concluded (following its detailed year-long study) that despite the large number of providers, competition is not working as well as it should in this sector.
Neil Buckley, Chief executive, Legal Services Board