left to right, Andrew Grech, Managing Director at Slater & Gordon, and Neil Kinsella, Chief Executive at Russell Jones & Walker
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has announced a further organisation to be licensed as an alternative business structure (ABS).
Russell Jones & Walker, part of Slater & Gordon is the next ABS firm to be authorised by the SRA, and joins Co-operative Legal Services, John Welch and Stammers, Lawbridge Solicitors Ltd and NewLaw Legal Limited. NewLaw was announced as an ABS on Tuesday, while the first three were revealed in March.
Approving the application has allowed Slater & Gordon to acquire Russell Jones & Walker for £53.8 million, which includes the Claims Direct brand. Russell Jones & Walker has practised for more than 80 years, with ten offices employing more than 400 staff, while Slater & Gordon was the first publicly-listed Australian law firm.
Antony Townsend, SRA Chief Executive, said: "The SRA is delighted to announce the licensing of Slater and Gordon as the latest Alternative Business Structure. This new licensed body combines a wealth of legal services in Russell Jones & Walker with the experience of the Australian law firm Slater & Gordon.
"It is a further example of the kind of innovation which ABSs are bringing to the legal services market."
Neil Kinsella, Chief Executive at Russell Jones & Walker, added: "This is an exciting new chapter in our history and is an important step towards us achieving our ambition of becoming the largest and most trusted brand for personal legal services in the UK."
Andrew Grech, Managing Director at Slater & Gordon, said: "This is the optimum time to enter the UK market because of the changes in ownership laws and impending changes to the personal injury sector."
Russell Jones & Walker, part of Slater & Gordon will be added to the SRA's ABS register, which lists information about each practice and the services it can provide.
Go to the ABS Register
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 SRA started accepting ABS applications on 3 January, after being designated a licensing body by the Ministry of Justice in December 2011. Seventy four Stage 2 forms have been submitted so far after initial interest from more than 200 applicants.
Find out more about ABS