A high-profile family law solicitor has set up a Bar Standards Board-regulated (BSB) entity because the regulation it offered was, she said, an “easy fit” for her low-risk sole practice.
Oxford-based Alexandra Lewis Family Law Limited received BSB authorisation at the end of last month.
Ms Lewis, who is a trained mediator, was a partner at top family practice Manches (now Penningtons Manches) for more than 10 years. Since 2011 she has worked remotely as a consultant with London-based niche family law firm Moss Fallon.
She told Legal Futures that the decision to seek BSB regulation was because she understood it to suit sole practitioners like herself: “I’m not planning to employ anyone and I had heard that it was a quick and more transparent way to get set up quickly, and that was my experience.”
Ms Lewis said she wanted to have her own practice, because being a consultant involved fee splitting, and “additional regulations and hoops to jump”.
She continued: “I’m someone who settles cases quickly. I do litigate but I think the job of a solicitor is to settle – get in, get out.
“I also don’t think that the model of being a partner in a big firm with assistants benefits the clients because it duplicates costs… I would rather just work direct for clients that suit me…
“If you are litigating and you’ve got… [many] court bundles to prepare and there are lots of satellite issues, then there are some advantages to being in a big firm. But most of my caseload, historically, has involved thin files and I’m focused on settlement.”
Ms Lewis said she had much in common with barrister sole practitioners who presented a low risk and were therefore “safe” from the regulator’s perspective.
“As I understand it, the BSB’s idea of single-person entities is designed for people exactly like me; people who are independent, do not work in a large organisation, who have an established track record, and have an established professional profile that they can rely upon.
“I am – touch wood – low risk. I know what I’m doing.”
She added that she did not handle client funds and that part of setting up the BSB entity involved incorporating the business. “I had to set up a company which is another security for them, I guess, because you have certain requirements and regulations as a company director.”
She concluded: “[Becoming BSB regulated] was a good and easy fit.”