CILEx Regulation has become the sixth body to license an alternative business structure (ABS) after approving an application from lifetime planning and bereavement firm Trust Inheritance.
TI Law will enable Trust Inheritance – which has a 30-year history – to offer reserved probate services to clients directly, rather than having to outsource them as it has had to previously.
CILEx Regulation joins the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Bar Standards Board, Council for Licensed Conveyancers, Intellectual Property Regulation Board and Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales as ABS licensing bodies.
It has taken two years from being authorised by the Legal Services Board for CILEx Regulation to license its first ABS; it already regulates 24 other law firms, but they do not have non-lawyer owners or managers.
However, Trust Inheritance, based in Weston-super-Mare, is employee owned, meaning it had to become an ABS. Joanne Dickson, TI Law’s chief officer financial planning, told Legal Futures that they chose to go with CILEx Regulation because it was “more aligned to our customer focused approach”.
Securing professional indemnity insurance for a new law firm in a hard market with a new regulator proved a challenge, Ms Dickson said, but one they were able to overcome.
Trust Inheritance employs four solicitors and four paralegals in its legal team, but initially TI Law will have three staff as the majority of unreserved legal work will for now continue to be done by the main business.
Solicitor Ekta Porter, chief officer legal planning and the head of legal practice at TI Law, said: “Becoming a CILEx Regulation ABS feels like a natural next step for our organisation and has given us the ability to extend our services.
“This aligns with our strategy to develop a highly professional, well-recognised, boutique law firm for more complex estates. It has also fuelled our ambition to extend our regulated services further in the future.”
Professor Janine Griffiths-Baker, chief executive at CILEx Regulation, hailed the move as “excellent news for consumers”.
She explained: “Enabling non-lawyers to own law firms in this way will increase innovation in legal services, offer greater choice to the public and strengthen competition in the market.
“At the same time, our extensive experience as a regulator will ensure high levels of consumer protection and appropriate oversight of activities.”
She said CILEx Regulation was working with a number of other ABS applicants.