Today, only solicitor and barrister partnerships owned by the lawyers themselves may be licensed to provide legal services. However, the Legal Services Act of 2007 may change that as soon as 2011. The Legal Services Board has announced that it will end this anti-competitive practice and that, down the road, legal advice will be available from many providers – including large brands. Additionally, accountants and lawyers will be allowed to form partnerships and law firms will be allowed to list on the stock exchange.
Proponents say that the increased competition will allow the public access to better legal advice and will allow customers to get more advice over the phone and online. They predict that “old style lawyers” will not survive these changes.
Opponents argue that the government is “robbing the public of access to good quality, local legal service.”