The Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, expressed his concern about the impact alternative business structures (ABS) could have on the future of legal services during a visit to Birmingham.
ABS, which becomes legal from October 6, is better known as ‘Tesco law’ and promises to shake up the legal sector.
However, many lawyers are concerned ABS will allow very large corporations with substantial marketing budgets to unfairly compete against smaller high street practices, which may put some at risk of closure.
During a private meeting organised by Birmingham Law Society at Pinsent Masons’ offices, attended by 20 of the leading litigators in the region, Lord Neuberger discussed the future of civil litigation and canvassed the views of lawyers attending the meeting.
Lord Neuberger later attended a lunch organised by Birmingham Law Society at Hotel Du Vin where he addressed 70 of the leading lawyers in the region.
He again aired his caution at ABS and the uncertainty it creates for the entire legal profession.
He also made the point that ABS in Australia had very little impact on the profession, but added that the UK was a very different market.
Chair of the dispute resolution committee and partner of Sydney Mitchell solicitors, Dean Parnell said: “It is great to see such a senior judge accepting a personal invitation from Birmingham law Society to attend a special visit to Birmingham to meet some of our members.
“All of the leading law firms within this region were involved in either the private meeting or the lunch.
“It was a great demonstration of the solidarity that we now have within our legal community.”
During the lunch Lord Neuberger added that he was impressed by the forward thinking approach of Birmingham lawyers and was supportive of the BLS initiative to open up its membership to barristers, which he felt would be copied by other local law societies.