County court advocacy specialists become latest ABS

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By Legal Futures

28 June 2012

County court: NAS covers the whole country

A law firm that specialises in providing advocacy services in every county court across the country yesterday became the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s eighth alternative business structure (ABS).

NAS Legal Ltd, which is based in Stockton on Tees, largely acts for other law firms, banks and building societies and focuses in particular on housing and debt-related matters.

Solicitor Christopher Stannard is its head of legal practice and once the licence becomes effective on 1 August, there will be one solicitor director and two non-lawyer directors. The licence covers all the usual areas of reserved legal activities and has no conditions or waivers.

In addition to its 15 staff, NAS has a network of over 200 self-employed advocates around the country, who must have at least completed the legal practice course or Bar professional training course, or are chartered legal executives. Law firm clients include Eversheds, TLT, Optima Legal and Matthew Arnold & Baldwin.

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NAS also provides some direct advice to individuals in areas such as employment, personal injury and debt recovery.

Business development manager Helen Burgess said the firm was “delighted” to receive its ABS licence, which would allow it to “broaden our horizons”, including extending ownership of the business to her and one other non-lawyer member of staff. Otherwise, however, Ms Burgess indicated that there are no plans to take further advantage of ABS status. “We will continue at present with what we’re doing,” she said.

NAS is the first new ABS for a month; last week, SRA executive director Samantha Barrass responded to growing concerns over the application process and also revealed that 30 applications are currently in the decision phase, while the ABS team is going through a further 130 applications to ensure the authority has all the information it needs to make a decision.


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