The SRA is to pick a select group of firms to take part in a test run of the alternative business structure (ABS) application process to iron out any issues ahead of the October implementation of the Legal Services Act.
No promises have been made to the firms participating in the pilot about the success of any applications and the SRA had pledged to destroy any papers involved in the test run.
However, one partner at a City firm complained that those taking part will “be ahead of the pack and have an unfair advantage”.
The watchdog, widely expected to be the chosen licensing authority for ABSs, is currently putting together an application process.
The pilot scheme, for which a set of questions and guidance has been developed, will be followed by a second test of the online system in the summer.
“We anticipate many ABSs to be ’one-offs’ with unique business models, and therefore we’ll need processes that can accommodate a variety of models,” said an SRA spokesman. “Piloting will enable us to test different parts of our approach.”
It is understood that firms will be able to apply for a licence from the summer to enable the first ABSs to launch on 1 October, when they become legal entities.
Addleshaw Goddard professional practice group head William Wastie said: “The SRA wants to collaborate with the first movers inABSs.
There’s a learning curve everyone has to go through to give confidence in the application process.”