Top 40 accountancy firm Streets has become the latest to add legal services to its offering with an alternative business structure (ABS) licence.
It has set up Streets Law, headed by Adam Aisthorpe, a corporate/commercial solicitor who has been recruited from Lincolnshire law firm Wilkin Chapman.
Streets has 38 partners/directors and employs about 150 people in 16 offices across the UK.
While all the Big 4 firms have ABS licences from the Solicitors Regulation Authority, only four of the rest of the top 100 do: RSM (seventh in Accountancy Age magazine’s table of the top 100), Kingston Smith (17th), Price Bailey (27th) and Barnes Roffe (41st). Streets is ranked 39th.
Price Bailey was the first accountancy firm to set up an ABS, back in 2013.
Paul Tutin, Streets’ chairman and managing partner, said: “The pace of business has never been so fast and our clients’ affairs seem increasingly complicated. As such, the demand for a much more holistic and commercially minded approach is one we continue to experience, especially from our corporate and business clients.
“The ability to offer a multi disciplinary approach, including financial, tax, business and legal advice is becoming ever more essential.”
Mr Tutin said he envisaged “significant growth in our legal practice team”.
Mr Aisthorpe said: “Providing legal advice in the round will be both rewarding personally, but also extremely beneficial to our clients. The benefits of which include joined up thinking, a linked service and that of a collective commercial mindset.”
Streets Law is a commercial practice and does not offer private client advice. The solicitor said: “With a track record in mergers and acquisitions work, business restructuring and refinancing, and providing legal support to businesses generally, my work is very much business focused.
“With Streets’ wider media interest, I will also support the need for legal advice for those in the media, entertainment, gaming and technology sectors, particularly for those clients located in London and Brighton.
“I will also be looking to support those clients in the education sector, including academies and maintained schools as well as other third sector clients, registered charities and not-for-profit organisations.”
The plan is to expand to provide employment law, litigation and property advice, he said.
Mr Aisthorpe told Legal Futures that ring-fencing the law firm from the accountancy business was “a key focus” of the ABS application.
He explained: “As it is anticipated that the majority of the caseload will come from referrals from the main Streets accountancy and tax practice, we have taken great care to ensure that the confidentiality of clients has been, and will be, protected and ring-fenced from inadvertent disclosure, and we have ensured that we have the necessary physical as well electronic data and privacy protections and firewalls in place.”
Streets took advice from Andy Donovan of The Compliance Office to ensure compliance; he described Streets Law as “the sort of collaboration and innovation which the regime was built for”.
We have reported on various much smaller law firm/accountancy ABSs over recent years, while hundreds of accountancy firms have ABS licences issued by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales for the limited purpose of delivering reserved probate work.