A clear majority of law students (63%) believe that the advent of alternative business structures (ABSs) will provide wider employment opportunities for lawyers.

These were the findings of a survey of 1,786 University of Law (UoL) students published this week.

47% of them also felt that ABS firms give lawyers more options for developing skills and progressing their careers.

This is an increase, 9% and 8% respectively, on the findings of last year’s survey, suggesting that law students are becoming increasingly aware of the potential benefits of ABSs.

However, the survey also revealed that 58% of students would not actively seek work with an ABS, but would prefer employment in a law firm.

The Co-operative Legal Services director of family law and head of professional practice Jenny Beck said: ‘It is good to see from the survey that awareness is growing among students of the different types of career path now on offer.’

She added: ‘Within the larger ABS firms, trainee solicitors have the opportunity to develop not only their core legal skills but also complementary business skills to further their professional development options for the future.’

UoL president and provost Professor Nigel Savage commented: ‘ABSs have been in operation for over a year now, and with almost 150 ABS licences having been issued since March 2012 it is clear that the law services industry is entering a new period of development.’

Savage said it was promising to see that students were becoming more aware of ABSs, ‘but more work needs to be done to show them that ABSs are here to stay and that they will ultimately offer an abundance of career opportunities alongside traditional law firms’.

Since March 2012, some 149 ABS licences have been granted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, with well-known brands such as the Co-op, Direct Line and BT all receiving the new status.