The rest of the country may may spent the last two weeks in blissful idleness, but there is no shortage of professional news to report.
The biggest story, I suppose, is that on Tuesday, the 3rd January, the SRA began accepting applications from organisations wanting to be licensed as alternative business structures ('ABSs'). Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly was quoted on the Ministry of Justice website as saying that:
"The addition of the Solicitors Regulation Authority marks another major milestone for UK legal services and the future of Alternative Business Structures.That may or may not turn out to be so, but the Gazette quotes Pearse McCabe, strategy and planning director at marketing consultants Rufus Leonard, as predicting a ‘titanic battle for the hearts and minds of potential customers’, between the old order on the one hand and established brands on the other. Only time will tell who will win that battle. Incidentally, if you are a solicitor or a law firm considering setting up an ABS, the Law Society has published advice and support, here.
"Customers will find legal services more accessible, providing a much more competitive and efficient service."
Meanwhile, as I reported in my last In Practice, the mySRA online renewals process is at last under way. Things have now moved on, and since the 5th January the process has been available to all firms and individuals, so get renewing, if you haven't done so already. Which reminds me, must get my membership of the roll renewed...
Just before Xmas the Law Society published a practice note on the use of social media. You can find it here. I have not read it all myself, but I must congratulate the Law Society for keeping its finger on the pulse, and being aware of such new-fangled things as "forums and comment spaces on information-based websites", "social networking websites such as Facebook", "weblogs" and Twitter.
Finally, the Law Society and the SRA are to move to 'The Cube', a new office building in Birmingham city centre, this summer. The Cube has "exceptional apartments, state-of-the-art offices, exclusive shops, water side cafe bars, Birmingham's first boutique hotel" and a "panoramic rooftop restaurant", run by Marco Pierre White, no less. I dread to think what the rent will be, but I'm sure solicitors will be glad to know that their practising certificate fees are keeping SRA employees happy in their shiny new workplace.