MDPs hold out hope for high street firms

The High Street has taken a battering in the past decade and the latest downturn in the economy will sound the last post for many small firms. Furthermore the Government has made it clear it does not want "jack of all trade" solicitors.

Behind the legal reforms is a drive for greater specialisation and accountability. Many small firms will not meet these requirements but that does not mean they are staffed by inadequates who should be cast out into the legal wilderness.

Giving solicitors commercial opportunities and a controlled business environment makes sense. So lawyers should welcome the Government's plans to introduce Multi-Disciplinary-Partnerships if the Law Society fails to do so.

High street solicitors who have relied on cut-price conveyancing and legal aid work to survive should find new business opportunities opening up and overheads cut if they move in with accountants, estate agents and surveyors.

Yet solicitors will have to put aside their traditional independence. So the real question is whether often prickly sole practitioners and small firm partners who will not or cannot work with other lawyers can find it in their hearts to move in with the accountants.