Multi-purpose law firms

I was interested to read Clive Parritt's article (The Lawyer, 24 March 1998). In some cases I agree with his views. "Horses for courses" is often the best basis for choosing a lawyer – or an accountant.

This does, however, presuppose that the client has started by consulting a general practitioner who then selects an expert.

Taking the medical analogy further however, it is fair to say that there is increasing pressure for GPs to set up group practices and provide many of the services that would in the past have been dealt with by specialists or in hospital.

One of my clients has a trust in Switzerland and another trust in the UK. When she visits her Swiss lawyers, if a tax issue arises she can whistle up the tax expert from down the corridor. In the UK she visits solicitors at one end of the City, obtains an opinion, visits her accountants at the other end of the City and quite possibly obtains a different opinion. The consequence may be lengthy correspondence between the two before a joint but careful opinion is issued.

As a client I would be outraged by the inefficiencies of the present arrangements.

Until recently, for many companies the potential for negligence claims in an area with which they were not familiar must have discouraged many firms of solicitors from establishing their own in-house or associated accountancy practice.

In summary, I think that solicitors should take action to counter the threat from firms of accountants establishing legal practices in a very straightforward way, by buying or setting up accountancy/taxation practices of their own.

Alex Lawrie

Geo Little Sebire & Co