Large legal firm joins ranks of those granted ABS licences

One of the largest personal injury solicitor firms in the UK has joined the ranks of those that the SRA has granted an ABS licences to.

BBH Legal Services – a wholly owned subsidiary of Thompsons Solicitors – has been champing at the bit to be granted the Alternative Business Structure status since the beginning of 2012 when the application process was first opened. Now, Thompsons and BBH will now be able to operate under the new ABS rules starting in the New Year, though the representatives for the personal injury lawyers say that the main reason it wished to become an ABS was so that it could admit Andrew Lyburn, its finance director, as a new LLP member, though it does now pave the way to admit other Thompsons colleagues that are non-lawyers as LLP members.

Stephen Cavalier, chief executive of the firm, expressed his pleasure with the approval of Thompsons’ application, as it will permit Mr Lyburn to not just become an LLP member of Thompsons Solicitors but also become a BBH director as well. However, this has been the only reason that Mr Cavalier has publicly admitted for seeking out ABS status, as he has been vehement in ruling out any possibility that Thompsons would seek out external investors or any other shifts in ownership structure, governance, or direction for the law firm.

There are nearly 25 practising Thompsons offices throughout Wales and England, though its main offices are of course in London. There have been several legal firms that the Soclicitors Regulation Authority has granted an ABS licence to in the last six months of 2012, including Keoghs, Parabis, and Irwin Mitchell. Unlike Thompsons, Keoghs in particular is set to receive outside investment in the form of a large cas infusion from LDC, a private equity house.

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