A City-based law firm next week launches an alternative business structure (ABS) to offer employers a range of human resources (HR) consulting and ‘employee engagement’ services, integrated with its existing legal practice.
Abbiss Cadres LLP’s founder, Guy Abbiss, indicated the venture marks the culmination of a four-year plan to take advantage of opportunities offered by liberalisation.
The firm, whose ABS licence from the Solicitors Regulation Authority comes into effect on 1 October, describes itself as “a multi-disciplinary practice” offering specialist services aimed at helping its clients make the most of their employees. Advice areas it covers include employee incentives, employment law, business immigration, international assignments, tax and corporate services.
Mr Abbiss – a barrister turned solicitor – said ABS status would assist the firm’s expansion in several areas, “including tax and human resources and communications consulting” by allowing non-lawyers to become partners and investors. Plans include “new business offerings around the delivery of employee communications, as part of an integrated employee engagement practice”. The firm will be hiring in these areas, he added.
Speaking to Legal Futures, he said: “The reason that I set up the practice in 2008 was with a view to this opportunity presented by deregulation.” After working with a “global consultancy” in the 1990s and having returned to the law, “I could see vast opportunities in terms of delivering a higher standard of service to clients by integrating the skills and approaches of traditional law firms and consulting firms into a combined offering”.
He continued: “A lot of the time we act as tax advisers and as legal advisers but this is an additional business offering where, if and when required, we can provide a complete HR consulting service, whether it’s communication, coaching, whatever it may be, and the platforms for delivery of it, with the legal and tax advice built-in.”
When employers go to a lawyer to seek legal or tax advice “which is somehow separated from the other important activities of communicating with employees and the business messages around engagement, it dilutes the ability of organisations to bring employees with them”, Mr Abbiss said.
He expressed confidence that there was “a large appetite in the marketplace for effecting change in the way that employees relate to their employing organisations and there is a lot of empirical evidence to suggest that it has real financial benefits in terms of profitability, turnover, productivity and so on”, he said.
He concluded: “This isn’t about ‘piling it high’ either; it’s about strategic, quality, high-value services – which is where we’ve managed to operate and where we intend to remain for the future.”