The commercial law firm that came in from the cold – newest ABS embraces regulation


Quinn: ABS is natural step

A business offering corporate and commercial legal services has entered into regulation by becoming the newest alternative business structure (ABS) licensed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Birmingham-based Legal Clarity offers legal drafting and company secretarial services to accountants, solicitors and entrepreneurs. Set up in 2007, it has not needed to be regulated as it does not conduct reserved legal activities.

However, James Quinn, its new head of legal practice, told Legal Futures that the company has always been run along law firm lines and that the reason for not becoming regulated before now was because it has a non-lawyer investor. “This has always been the plan. It’s a natural step for us,” he said.

Mr Quinn – formerly of Slaughter & May and Eversheds – said ABS status was aimed solely at giving Legal Clarity’s clients the “extra reassurance” they would expect when taking advice on substantive legal matters. Though the firm may use the licence to expand into reserved services, this will only be a small part of its practice.

The business has 10 staff split equally between solicitors – who are now obtaining practising certificates – and IT programmers. Mr Quinn explained that “we leverage technology as much as we can to deliver fixed-cost legal services”. The work for accountants is to provide a full range of company/commercial law services; for other solicitors it tends to be specialist advice – on a “silent and unbranded basis”, says Legal Clarity’s website – where they do not have the expertise in-house.

Mr Quinn said he had found the ABS application process “very straightforward… I was pleasantly surprised”. Legal Clarity submitted its stage 2 application in July and had asked for the licence to be issued by 1 November.

 

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