Visit by Jude Kirton-Darling MEP

We are delighted to be able to welcome a number of visitors to the SLO each year. This occasion was no different. I was part of a group of six SLO students who met Jude Kirton-Darling MEP.

Jude currently directs European trade union work in the areas of energy, industrial policy, environment and health and safety, all key areas for the European Union and the North-East in the years ahead (http://www.eurolabour.org.uk/jude-kirton-darling-mep).

Jude Kirton-Darling MEP with SLO students and supervisors

Jude Kirton-Darling MEP (front left) with SLO students and supervisors

We had a great and informative discussion about the work the SLO does. I spoke about our Business & Commercial firms and the type of assistance we have given in the past, such as advising individuals on creating a company and the ways in which they can protect their brand. It was particularly interesting to hear how EU Law impacts upon businesses in our own country. For example an area of the law called ‘EU competition’ allows a company to have the opportunity to establish business across the EU. This is important for many local businesses and particularly good for those businesses who wish to expand beyond borders. So, having Jude visit us allowed us in the SLO to think about these issues and to understand how EU law might benefit businesses. Importantly for us, it allowed us to explore how we can help clients by understanding ‘the bigger picture’.

It was great to meet Jude and understand the work she does in the European Parliament. Having grown up locally (Middlesbrough) she really is an inspiration here at the SLO. We wish her the best in her future career and hope she remains in contact with the SLO!

This blog post was written by Connor Cartledge. Connor is a final year M Law student at Northumbria University who is currently working in a business and commercial firm in Northumbria’s Student Law Office as part of his final year studies. After University he hopes to obtain a Training Contract with a law firm. He has had a good range of experience with international, national and regional law firms.

Connor

ABS: Will it create a law firm SOS?

A current commercial issue that may inevitably confront businesses in our region is the quite recent implementation of newly operating Alternative Business Structures. Alternative Business Structures is an innovative idea whereby under the Legal Services Act 2007 non-legal organisations can give legal advice and share management of law firms by obtaining a licence, resulting in external investment. The main purpose of its introduction is to provide more choice for consumers of legal services. Significantly this will impact upon many law firms and also many companies that may desire to adopt a new and cutting-edge business model. Organisations such as the AA and Co-op have now all become an ABS; expanding the legal sector. This may inflict damage upon smaller law firms who may find that their own existing clients and any potential new clients will choose larger organisations for reasons such as practicality, competitive rates and convenience. Although an advantage to companies, it may prove to become a disadvantage to smaller law firms who may already be struggling under crippling Legal Aid cuts, the pressures of differentiating their brand in an overly crowded legal market, and increasing client demands.

As this commercial issue is current and ongoing it is unclear and to an extent uncertain what impact the ‘ABS’ implementation will have in the future among businesses and law firms alike. But clearly there will be more competiveness and aggressive marketing campaigns in order to attract clients and bolster profits.  Neil Rose of The Guardian stated, ‘It may be a difficult time to be a lawyer, but – at least in theory – it should be a better time to be a client.’

Overall it suggests the party who will be gaining the most is the client from the street than the lawyer in the office. The significance of this current commercial issue cannot be underestimated and it is an issue that will only increase as we start to see the first effects of the change.

For more information, this link may be interesting:

http://l2b.thelawyer.com/home/insight/an-alternative-to-alternative-business-structures/3015083.article

http://www.sra.org.uk/sra/how-we-work/reports/research-abs-executive-report.page

If you are interested in setting up an ABS, the link below may provide some initial guidance:

https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/advice/articles/setting-up-an-abs/

This blog post was written by Connor Cartledge. Connor is a final year M Law student at Northumbria University who is currently working in a business and commercial firm in Northumbria’s Student Law Office as part of his final year studies. After University he hopes to obtain a Training Contract with a law firm. He has had a good range of experience with international, national and regional law firms.

Connor