Irwin Mitchell latest firm to join SRA’s ABS tally
20 August 2012
The SRA has announced that Irwin Mitchell is the latest alternative business structure (ABS) to be authorised, taking the SRA’s ABS total to 19. This is the first ‘multi-licence’ application to be endorsed (with five different entities approved within the Irwin Mitchell Group), and the largest law firm to have become an ABS.
The firm, one of the largest in the UK with 60 solicitor Members, 5 non-solicitor Members, 75 Salaried Partners, and 20 non-solicitor Directors and Associate Directors, employs over 2,200 people in seven offices in England, and owns the Spanish legal practice Irwin Mitchell Abogados, which has offices in Madrid and Malaga.
It was also one of the first law firms to convert to Legal Disciplinary Practice status in May 2010, promoting non-lawyers to its equity structure for the first time.
John Pickering, Group Chief Executive at Irwin Mitchell, said: "This is a major step forward for Irwin Mitchell as a group and we are delighted that we have received the licences for which we applied. It’s a very significant day for us, an important milestone which positions us well to take advantage of the opportunities which we think will arise from the changing legal landscape.
"We can now push on with our plans for growing the business. Conversion to ABS status sends a clear signal that we intend to move forward with our strategy and we are pleased to be the first multi-licensed ABS, which reflects the breadth of our offering to clients."
Antony Townsend, SRA Chief Executive, said: "The ABS total is gathering pace as is the variety of models that we are seeing emerge. Irwin Mitchell is one of the largest organisations we have authorised so far, and the first multi-licence to be granted. It just shows that the new legislation gives plenty of scope for all types of applications.
"Our authorisation system has been built to be flexible enough to deal with a range of organisations with hugely varying corporate structures and robust enough to apply the same stringent suitability criteria by which traditional firms are judged. Irwin Mitchell’s application was different to other applications because of the number of licences involved. The systems we have in place to authorise ABSs are thorough, and we are continuing to make improvements to the process as we gain further experience."
View the ABS register
Note to editors
The five licences have been granted to: Irwin Mitchell LLP; Irwin Mitchell Trustees Limited; Irwin Mitchell Trust Corporation Limited: Ascent Collections Limited, and Coris UK Limited.
An ABS is a business providing regulated reserved legal activities but which has either, or both, non-lawyer owners and managers. Traditionally, law firms have had to be owned and managed only by lawyers.
The non-lawyer ownership and management of legal services providers – under the Legal Services Act 2007 - was one of a significant raft of reforms designed to liberalise the regulation and provision of legal services in England and Wales. The reforms will increase competition and provide consumers with greater choice and access to legal and related services.