As if there isn't enough to worry about these days with the recession and the legal aid tender debacle, solicitors are now facing what could be their biggest threat of all: ABS. The Gazette today reports a survey of more than 300 solicitors by law firm network Contact Law which unsurprisingly indicates a high level of anxiety among solicitors over the impact of the introduction of alternative business structures from October next year.
Interestingly, it seems that family lawyers are not quite as apprehensive as other members of the profession, with only 22% saying that the reforms represented a 'high level of threat', and the same percentage classing it as a 'medium threat'. I think that Dan Watkins, director of Contact Law’s find-a-solicitor service, is right in suggesting that the most likely area of increased competition from ABSs is going to be uncontested divorce work, where solicitors already face stiff competition from cheap online services. The days of 'easy money' uncontested divorce work may well be numbered.
As to whether ABSs will be able to eat into other areas of work such as children matters and ancillary relief, and as to whether the majority of family lawyers are being complacent to the threat, remains to be seen.