The Legal Services Board has announced that the first Alternative Business Structures will be able to apply for licences in mid-October 2011. For English lawyers this will be the dawning of a new age. For the Master of the Rolls (the head of our civil appeals court) this is the slippery slope to the fusion of barristers and solicitors. Maybe, or maybe the differences will be less defined. Whichever way it goes specialization will take care of what skills are needed.
The LSB quotes some interesting statistics from the Office of National Statistics on the legal profession.
The legal profession currently consists of some 16,455 barristers, 112,246 solicitors and 12,200 individuals authorised to operate in other aspects of the legal profession such as conveyancing. The sector has been valued at £25.97 billion per annum. In total the legal sector employed 323,000 individuals in 2008. [ONS]With this kind of money and the numbers of people involved in legal services, there is plenty of incentive for some creative thinking in this future market. Now, question: will it be a matter of who gets there first or will the fast second ultimately win?