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UK Consumers Could Buy Legal Services With Bread, Milk and Eggs as Soon as January, Under New Law

Posted Oct 6, 2011 6:52 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A much-anticipated new law that will revolutionize the provision of legal services to consumers in the United Kingdom and allow non-attorneys to invest in and help run "alternative business structures" expected to operate much like law firms takes effect this month.

But it will still be a while before the Legal Services Act is implemented to allow supermarket shoppers to purchase legal advice along with their bread, milk and eggs and law firms to sell shares to outside investors, reports the Financial Times (sub. req.).

It will be at least early 2012 before the Ministry of Justice authorizes the Solicitors Regulation Authority to license alternative business structures, which is a prerequisite for operating in this manner under the LSA, the newspaper says.

Hence, plans already on the drawing board to offer free legal counsel to bank customers and seek non-attorney capital for law firms won't actually be implemented until January, at the earliest.

Meanwhile, an Australian personal injury firm billed as the world's publicly traded legal shop continues on a highly profitable expansion tear. Slater & Gordon saw its 2011 revenue increase a little over 46 percent, while net profit rose 40 percent, the Lawyers Weekly reported in August.

The firm also reported strong profits for 2008, 2009 and 2010 despite the gloomy global economy, as detailed in an earlier ABAJournal.com post.

"Our driving philosophy remains a simple one ... to provide access to the legal system for everyday Australians," managing director Andrew Grech told Lawyers Weekly. "That continues to be our focus and we are not looking to expand our existing areas of expertise."

Hat tip: Wall Street Journal Law Blog.

Related coverage:

ABA Journal: "Law, the Investment"

ABAJournal.com: "Non-Attorney Ownership Will Mean More Competition for UK Law Firms"

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