Two of the UK’s top-70 firms have successfully converted to alternative business structure status.
National firms Gateley and Freeth Cartwright have become two of the biggest practices yet to be granted an ABS licence by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Both say they intend to bring non-lawyers into the management structure of their businesses.
A subsidiary of Freeth Cartwright dedicated to high street legal issues, FC Retail, is also a new ABS.
The firm’s chief executive Peter Smith said there was value in having professionals with complementary skills working alongside the solicitors in the management team.
He added: ‘In the new world post-Legal Services Act, it obviously made sense for us to adopt an ABS structure as the appropriate vehicle to reflect this approach and to take our business forward.’
Freeth Cartwright increased revenue by 10% to £41m in 2012/13 and employs around 200 lawyers.
Gateley, which has around 370 lawyers and posted 2012/13 turnover of £66m, is the third top-50 firm to become an ABS after Irwin Mitchell and Parabis.
Michael Ward, head of legal practice, said: ‘There is no downside to an ABS licence and it will give us extra flexibility to admit members to the LLP who are not solicitors.’
The SRA has had a flurry of ABS activity this month, approving applications from 11 entities. The total number now stands at 226.