Two non-solicitor daughters have converted their late mother’s law firm into an alternative business structure (ABS) to ensure the family’s legacy.

The story, first reported in specialist legal publication Legal Futures, demonstrates how ABS conversion can be used by solicitors for effective succession planning.

ABSs were first introduced to the legal sphere in 2008 under the Legal Services Act 2007. The new legal structure enables non-practising entrepreneurs to own and invest in law firms.

Much like traditional law firms, ABSs are still governed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and are required to follow the same strict accounting and regulatory codes.

According to the latest statistics, some 1,300 law firms in the UK are now classified as an ABS, indicating the structure’s popularity among the legal sector.

While many believe ABSs are merely vehicles for non-lawyers to invest and take a share of the sector’s profits, this recent case demonstrates how they can be used as an innovative form of succession planning.

The firm in question, Maria Fogg Family Law, was founded by sole practitioner Maria Fogg in 2011. She employed her two daughters, Charlotte and Andrea Fogg, who both held management roles in the business.

However, after Ms Fogg’s death in November 2018, the daughters were left in a precarious scenario. They could not take over the law firm as they were not solicitors. The only other options were a sale, liquidation or conversion.

Explaining her motivations to convert the law firm into an ABS, daughter Charlotte said: “We wanted to keep the firm going, and in the family, because we felt passionate about continuing our mother’s legacy.

“The firm always had a fantastic reputation and does really important work for vulnerable clients, with many cases involving domestic violence or child protection.”

After conversion, the daughters now hold controlling rights of the company as directors and shareholders, enabling the law firm to continue serving the community under the same name and management.

For more information about ABS conversion and succession planning, please get in touch with our expert team.

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About our Legal team
With Mark Sharpley, executive committee member of the UK200 Legal Group, and fellow partners Jeremy Allison and Nicki Shipley at the helm of an experienced team of legal finance specialists, the Smailes Goldie Group is well positioned to offer tax and accounting advice to solicitors. Whether you are a sole practitioner or a multi-partner firm, the Smailes Goldie group has the expertise and understanding of all financial matters relating to the legal profession, including: compliance services, Solicitors’ Accounts Rule audits, preparing annual accounts, tax advice for both firms and/or partners, and advising on LLP status. For more information on any of the issues covered in this bulletin, please contact Mark Sharpley at marksharpley@smailesgoldie.co.uk.

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