The Co-operative is gearing up to become an ABS

The Solicitors’ Regulation Authority explains that ‘ABS’ means ‘Alternative business structures’ and on one section of its website it refers to a role fornon-lawyers’: 

“On 6 October 2011 the SRA expects to be licensing the first Alternative Business Structures [ABS] to provide legal services to the public in England and Wales. Part 5 of the Legal Services Act 2007, permits ABS which will allow participation by a larger proportion of individual non-lawyers in a firm than currently permitted.” 

 A reader alerted us to the recent report in the Law Society Gazette:

Rachel Rothwell writes:

“The CLC will only be able to license a fairly narrow range of activities compared to what the SRA will offer. And that will not be enough to accommodate the Co-op’s ambitious plans.

“Jonathan Gulliford, sales & marketing director at Co-operative Legal Services, tells me that the group wants to be an ‘across-the-board’ legal services provider once it gets hold of that ABS licence.” 

The quality of the Gazette’s journalism was criticised

One comment added: “This is the Gazette showing that it gets to cosy to Co-op and doesn’t want to upset it. No doubt one eye on future advertising revenue for the Gazette when Co-op starts its mass recruitment campaigns in the new ABS world.” 

Concern was expressed about missing comments – censorship – and John Maher, the web editor, replied: “Users on the Gazette website can moderate comments if they think these are potentially abusive, or if there are links to other sites (as was the case with one example – removed – above). So they have not ‘disappeared’ and can be reinstated onto the site if we think they are suitable. This is not an example of the Gazette getting ‘cosy’ to the Co-op and hiding comments, users have the power to remove entries they deem offensive.” 

This was countered by Dave West: “As far as I was aware the statement wasn’t abusive, but it was in the public interest. It didn’t link to another website and it is offensive that you have removed it.” 

John Maher answered: “Dave – we are just waiting to hear back from our legal team over a number of comments, including yours, before we decide to re-post them or not.” 

Whiter than white

The article and comments – together with allegations about the CLS made earlier – should be read – for information leading to action – by those hoping to see all Co-operative enterprises held in esteem as being ‘whiter than white’.

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