The move is the first step on the road to multi-disciplinary practices where lawyers and other professionals, such as accountants, can be partners in the same practice.
The Law Society proposal, called ‘legal practice plus’ would provide an interim solution for solicitors who want to provide a wider range of services to clients.
Non-solicitors would be able to become partners in a law firm, provided the majority of partners were solicitors.
Law Society president Michael Napier said: ‘Effective regulation must keep up with the realities of the market place and not hinder new forms of business.’He added: ‘The Society continues to work towards a regulatory model that would allow solicitors to engage in fully fledged multi-disciplinary partnerships but this will take time.’
Tony Williams, Andersen Legal’s managing partner said: ‘Solicitors recognise that they are in a competitive marketplace and want to have the freedom to provide a wide range of advice alongside other professionals for large and small clients alike.
‘The provision of multi-disciplinary services affects the High Street as well as the City markets and clients should have that choice.’
James Hodgson, partner at KLegal, KPMG’s associated law firm, said: ‘This is a step in the right direction. Combined with the OFT’s review of MDPs the current bar will go sooner rather than later.’
However, Hodgson added that the success of firms like KLegal was not dependent on the introduction on MDPs.
Peter Owen, executive director of the English Institute’s professional standards committee said: ‘Full liberalisation would be a good thing, with restrictions lifted completely.’
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