It is great news that the BSB has received approval from the LSB to become a licensing authority. This means it can in turn license ABSs. A huge amount of hard work and careful planning by the BSB has brought this about.
I was struck by a comment made within the Times' excellent daily newsletter on law, "the Brief" that this is another incremental steps towards a fusion of the legal professions.
The Bar has a bright future as a provider of not only advocacy but also high quality cost effective legal advice. The introduction of ABSs by the BSB is not a step towards a fused profession but a step towards a more adaptable bar. If BSB ABSs did not exist then barristers would have not alternative but to go to the SRA for regulation and that is of course a step towards fusion.
Once that last green light flashes, BSB-licensed ABSs will allow lawyers and non-lawyers jointly to own and manage businesses that provide reserved legal activities. It advances the present position where BSB-regulated “entities” can include lawyer partners, regardless of whether they are barristers, solicitors or legal executives. The move is another step on the incremental destruction of the so-called split legal profession in England and Wales. The BSB said it hoped to begin licensing ABSs from this October. Oliver Hanmer, the board’s director of supervision, said that the LSB’s authorisation was a “testament to our desire to encourage innovation and competition and to improve access to justice within the legal services market”.