New ABSs target high net-worth individuals and Yorkshire high street

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By Legal Futures

18 October 2012


Morgan: exciting opportunities

A Mayfair-based private client firm that has close links to a wealth manager and a personal injury practice that is diversifying into other areas of law have become the first new alternative business structures (ABSs) in nearly a month.

AAG Legal Services has been set up by solicitor Lesley Morgan. Although the firm is independent of wealth manager the Alexander Associates Group (AAG), it shares an office building with AAG (but has its own secure space) and has two passive non-lawyer shareholders – one corporate and one individual, both of whom are AAG wealth managers.

Ms Morgan stressed that she would also be working with non-AAG clients, and that no fees would pass between her and AAG in the event of referring clients in either direction; however, the connection enables AAG to provide high net-worth individuals with a seamless service.

AAG Legal Services has been granted a waiver that allows it to be connected with AAG, despite AAG being an appointed representative of a financial service provider (St James’s Place Group) which is not itself an independent financial adviser.

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Ms Morgan said AAG chief executive David Alexander had been her financial adviser for many years, and that the idea of setting up the law firm came out of discussions with him. The firm will offer traditional private client services, but she said she hoped to expand “sooner rather than later” depending on the other specialisms for which there is demand.

“The prospects and opportunities that are out there are amazingly exciting,” she said.

Meanwhile, Kayes Solicitors of Pudsey, Leeds, is to relaunch as Pudsey Legal following the grant of its ABS licence. The move allows solicitor Paul Kaye to go into partnership with finance manager Andrew Cummings and HR specialist Nigel Beck.

A personal injury practice since it launched in 2003, it is now expanding into wills and probate, conveyancing, and family law so as to provide a true high-street service to its local community.

Mr Cummings told Legal Futures that the uncertainty around the upcoming civil justice reforms and the referral fee ban was a major factor in the move. “Becoming an ABS gives us a much more robust platform for developing the firm and continuing to work with our strategic partners,” he said.

The two new ABSs had differing views on the process. Ms Morgan said it had been “overwhelming” because of the time involved in securing her licence. “While I totally accept and support the need for complete and thorough checks, I do feel it has been a somewhat longer process than was ever anticipated,” she said.

Mr Cummings said the process had “rightly” been detailed, rigorous and demanding.  “However, the SRA, and particularly our case worker, have always been ready, willing and able to guide us at all stages to make the procedure as smooth and user friendly as possible.”

 

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