The march towards alternative business structures (ABSs) took a significant stride forward recently. Alternative Business Structures (ABSs), commonly dubbed “Tesco law”, represent the radical relaxation of the tight ownership restrictions on legal businesses and mean that from 6 October 2011, non-lawyers will for the first time be able to invest in and own them. It could even mean law firms floating on the stock

market. A few big names have made their intentions clear, most notably the Co-op, which since 2006 has grown its legal services from offering nothing to a £20m-plus business and intends to become an ABS. Others, such as the AA, Saga, Halifax and a host of other financial services businesses have dipped their toes into the water by offering online legal document production and other relatively straightforward services.

For many years lawyers have largely ignored the oncoming storm, but with less than four months to go, they can do so no longer. This October will not be the “big bang” some characterise it as – the law

just doesn’t move that quickly. But in five or 10 years’ time, the face of legal services could look very, very different.

 The Guardian – 25th March 2011