A white collar rail workers trade union has joined a law firm as partner in a groundbreaking alternative business structure.

The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) will invest in Leeds-based firm Morrish after the LLP converted to ABS status last week.

The firm has provided services to the trade union movement across the UK for more than 100 years, offering services in personal injury claims, employment rights and professional negligence claims.

Trade union specialist Thompsons became an ABS in December 2012 but this is believed to be the first arrangement under which a union will sit on the board of a law firm and take profit from the business.

Paul Scholey, senior partner at Morrish, said, ‘We have worked with TSSA and the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority for 12 months to establish what we believe is the world’s first union-based ABS. 

‘It brings us closer to one of our most significant clients, whilst TSSA benefits from a direct financial relationship with a major service provider. We have ensured that rigorous controls are in place to provide for our continuing independence and impartiality – and so that our other clients can be satisfied that their interests continue to be best served as ever.’

Frank Ward, assistant general secretary of TSSA, said the arrangement was easier to achieve than setting up a legal service from scratch.

‘We have a long and happy relationship with Morrish, and the natural next step now that non-lawyer investment in law firms is permissible was to look at better integration of the provision of legal services to our union and our members – but without any of the regulatory issues that would arise were we to create an in-house legal team.’ 

Morrish employs around 100 people and has offices in Leeds, Bradford, Yeadon and Pudsey.

The TSSA represents 22,000 administrative, managerial, professional and technical workers on the railways, London Underground, in the travel trade, on ports and on ferries.