The next five years for law firms

The next five years for law firms

With the political dust settling from the general election, our panel of experts considers what the election result could mean for the legal practice in the UK.

The experts

Nick Jarrett-Kerr, LLB, specialist adviser to law firms and professional services firms

Giles Murphy, head of professional practices at Smith & Williamson

Iain Miller, partner in the litigation, advisory and regulatory department at Bevan Brittan

What does the election result mean for your practice area?

Nick Jarrett-Kerr (NJK): From a management and regulatory standpoint, the appointment of Michael Gove as Justice Minister is a very interesting one. It has for some time been suggested that the regulatory controls on lawyers have become very cumbersome and there are too many regulators, and I suspect Mr Gove will move to de-layer this to a great extent. I can’t see the Solicitors Regulation Authority surviving!

I regularly advise overseas firms in jurisdictions where the solicitors and barristers’ professions have been fused, and yet here we are in the UK with a split profession where nevertheless an alternative business structure can bridge the two branches. To my mind, a split profession—particularly in our deregulated jurisdiction—begins to look antiquated and out of line globally, so I wonder if we may yet get a fused profession.

Giles Murhpy (GM): I think everyone is a bit surprised by the result of the general election and are, therefore, trying to work out what the impact will be. Essentially, the answer is probably little change. We were all gearing ourselves up for a lot of negotiation and indecision as various parties attempted to form a government, followed by potentially much more significant change than is now likely to materialise.

Traditionally, the more right wing the government, the more business-oriented it tends to be. With this in mind, we might reasonably expect to see the removal of regulations and legislation that gets in the way of business, with fewer requirements for the need to seek or rely on professional advice. Again, while this may be all good and well for those seeking to push ahead with their business, it’s not so good for those professionals who

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