Scottish private client leader Turcan Connell has written to the Law Society of Scotland demanding it provide alternative business structures for law firms to meet client needs.
Turcan Connell joint senior partner Douglas Connell wrote to Law Society chief executive Douglas Mill last week expressing his partners’ concerns that failure to embrace the kind of change currently being debated in England could undermine the Scottish legal profession.
Specifically, Connell called on the society and the Scottish Executive to allow professional advisers other than lawyers to become partners in Scottish firms.
He proposed an ‘approved persons’ regime, under which a minority of non-lawyers could become partners, a system similar to the provision of financial services where all practitioners must be individually authorised by the Financial Services Authority (FSA).
Connell said that legal services in Scotland may ultimately require more fundamental change, but a move towards more flexible business structures was an appropriate starting point.
“I believe that many small towns would benefit from local solicitors, accountants, surveyors and FSA-regulated practitioners joining together to take advantage of economies of scale,” said Connell. “This would be a Scottish solution to a Scottish issue.”
Connell also warned that the position of Scottish firms could not be considered in isolation from the rest of the UK.
“There is no reason why a Scottish firm that has English-qualified practitioners could not establish a partnership regulated by the Law Society in England and then take advantage of its more liberal structural rules,” he said.