Weightmans paves way to business services partners as firm gains ABS approval

Weightmans has become the latest top 50 firm to obtain an alternative business structure (ABS) licence from the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

The firm applied for the licence in May (29 April 2013). It was authorised to begin operating under the new structure on Friday (20 December).

The licence will enable Weightmans to take on external investment and promote non-lawyers to the partnership for the first time.

Weightmans managing partner John Schorah confirmed that one paralegal fee-earner will be made up to the partnership, adding: “In the new year we’ll start internal fixed-share partner applications, which will be open to operational staff for the first time”.

He confirmed that fixed-share partners were not currently expected to inject capital into the firm but that this may change in the near future.

Weightmans begins its next promotions round in January, with decisions being made in February and March and taking effect from May.

Schorah also said that although the possibility of external investment had been discussed, it was not currently considered a priority. However, he did not rule out some form of financial restructuring in the future.

Weightmans’ ABS status comes just days after Gateley was granted a licence for its English offices with a view to making up the head of its finance team Neil Smith to partner before also considering making up other heads in departments such as those of IT and human resources (20 December 2013).

Irwin Mitchell was the first top 50 firm to enter the ABS market with five licences for the range of businesses within its structure in 2012 (30 August 2012).