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Law students are resistant to working for a firm with an alternative business structure (ABS) licence, a survey by the University of Law has found.
Despite more students than last year recognising the opportunities that ABSs can bring, many are still reluctant to actively seek work with the new model of law firm, the poll concluded.
The survey suggests that students are getting to grips with the opportunities offered by ABS. Around 63 per cent of respondents stated that ABSs provided wider employment opportunities, up from 54 per cent last year. Nevertheless, they are not attracted to a job in the new market with 58 per cent of respondents stating that they would not look for a job with an ABS.
Almost half (47 per cent) of respondents thought that the new breed of law firm could provide options for adding to their skills and advance their careers, an 8 per cent increase from 2012.
Nearly 150 ABS licenses have been approved by the Solicitors Regulation Authority since March 2012 with BT, The Co-op and Direct Line all opting to practise law.
The UK Law Students’ Association (UKLSA) cautiously welcomed the concept of ABSs.
President Claire Hansen said: “In principle the UKLSA welcomes the concept of ABS and the increased opportunities they provide.
“We have already seen a lot of change in the legal market in 2013 with regard to training contract and pupillage requirements. The main goal of students is to get solid legal training, particularly in these times where we are seeing the lowest number of training contracts practically since records began in 1998.
“We view new models giving students increased chances to make it into the profession as positive. Many students perceive ABSs to be a modern novation on the traditional UK legal world, representing an approach that is moving with the commercial reality of the times. Training and working in ABSs should allow students to build their commercial awareness and business acumen - and be exposed to more innovative practices, such as new fixed-fee models, transparent billing approaches and full-service models that traditional firms may not have embraced to date.”
She concluded: “If the outcome of this approach means more clients, work and jobs then the future of student trainees and young lawyers working in ABSs looks bright.”
Jenny Beck, director of family law and head of professional practice at Co-operative Legal Services, insisted that students are beginning to see the positive side of the growth of ABSs.
She said: “ABS is a very significant development for the legal industry and law students need to be aware of the opportunities it brings. It is good to see from The University of Law’s survey that awareness of the different types of career path now on offer is on the increase.”
The survey results were based on 1,956 responses from LLB, graduate diploma in law, legal practice course and bar professional training course students across all UK University of Law centres.