Barristers at a London chambers have set up an alternative business structure licensed by the solicitors' regulator in a push to operate their set more like a traditional law firm.
ARP Legal, set up by five barristers and the managing director at 5 St Andrew’s Hill, will target the international asset recovery market.
Ben Keith (pictured), a human rights barrister and one of the directors of ARP Legal, said the main benefit of the structure is it will allow them to take on cases in the same way a law firm would. Once launched, clients will be able to instruct the company rather than just an individual barrister.
‘We think there is a fair amount of work in this area and we’ve got the expertise in that field. The structure means that if a case is too much work for one barrister, we can bring it in like a traditional firm,’ he told the Gazette.
A number of barristers at the chambers are already licensed to conduct litigation, with more expected to get their licence soon. The directors of ARP hope that once the barristers can work together as a team it will enable them to take their cases all the way through from litigation to advocacy.
Keith said: ‘We don’t want to be like a solicitors' firm that does everything. We don’t have the capacity to do that nor the wish. What we are trying to do is take direct access work in this area and provide a full service for much bigger cases.
Gary Pons, a criminal barrister and head of legal services at the ABS, stressed that the venture is not trying to compete with solicitors.
He said that the founders opted for the model as they felt the industry was moving towards eventually becoming fused. ‘There isn’t anything a barrister can do that a solicitor can’t and only one thing a solicitor can do that a barrister can’t. It is technical fusion,’ Pons said.
The ABS has been licensed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, which the barristers hope will help when marketing the company internationally, as they say the regulator is more widely recognised.
They have no plans to hire solicitors, but said they might have to take one on as the SRA has not yet said whether it will allow the ABS to hold client money through Barco.
ARP Legal will start practising later this month.