TAX AND REGULATORY ISSUES are among the biggest challenges facing law firms considering conversion to alternative business structures (ABSs).
Opening up the ownership structures of firms that provide legal advice, including the injection of private equity, is of great importance to accountancy firms. Accounting practices could find themselves the subject of takeover by lawyers – conversely, practices could look to provide legal services.
But the survey of 100 law firms, by Fox Williams, found some resistance to change.
Some 41% said they would need tax advice to help them structure an ABS – also known as a multi-disciplinary practice (MDP) – while more than a third would need help on the consequences of the move in a regulatory context.
Half of the firms said that partners’ resistance to change would serve as a barrier, while loss of control of the firm was a concern for 62% of respondents.
However, 54% said that gaining access to private equity was either “compelling” or “very compelling”.
The majority (70%) identified improving the firm’s cashflow as either “important” or “very important” when considering an ABS conversion.
“The [Legal Services Act] is an enabler and is about new models for the provision of legal services not yet contemplated. It is very early days and we can expect a lot more innovation in the coming months and years,” said Tina Williams, senior partner at Fox Williams and a partnership law expert.
The ICAEW is currently working towards becoming an approved regulator, a status that will enable it to license firms wanting to structure themselves as an ABS.
Do you have an investigation looming large over you? Kingsley Napley's Julie Matheson goes through the best strategies to manage the process
Grant Thornton will conduct the audit of Tern following the resignation of Jeffreys Henry
Kingston Smith has announced the promotion of James Moggeridge and Nick Thompson to directors
It has been another glittering night in the accountancy calendar. A range of practices big and small, plus outstanding individuals, have been rewarded for their efforts in the British Accountancy Awards 2016