Did you know that Elderflower Legal is the first solicitor-owned entity to be granted a licence to practise by the Bar Standards Board?
Under new reforms introduced by the Legal Services Act, the Bar Standards Board obtained new powers to grant licences to practice ‘reserved legal services’ to corporate entities set up by barristers, solicitors and other legal professionals. Elderflower Legal was among the first wave of 13 licences granted in April 2015.
Says Mark Johnson, “In setting up a new practice we wanted to find a regulatory regime which was proportionate in terms of compliance costs and management time. The Bar Standards Board regime is to be commended in achieving an appropriate balance between protecting the essential rights of clients, whilst at the same time not tying the practitioner up in knots with unrealistic demands. The benefit to our clients is clear: they enjoy all the essential protections of the Bar’s ethical code, whilst their more stable mutual insurance market and proportionate reporting and compliance system translates into lower costs for our service users. Simple as that.”
The choice to have the practice regulated by the Bar, rather than the solicitors’ regulator certainly caused some excitement in the legal press and online forums, with some predicting the fusion of the two branches of the profession and others bemoaning the rapid pace of change in legal services.
Says Johnson, “I was surprised by the excitement from some of my legal brethren. Some commentators said it was the beginning of a race to the bottom and regulatory arbitrage. Frankly, I think that was a lot of self-serving nonsense. In designing any service, you have to understand what the customer wants and what they are prepared to pay for it. I was quite happy to be a disruptive innovator breaking the mould for legal services in the 21st century.”
See what the Press said: