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 Impact of Regulatory Changes

Impact of Regulatory Changes on Sole Practitioner IP/IT Law Firms

December 24, 2008

Azrights is organising a meeting of sole practitioner IP/IT law firms to explore the possibility of sharing certain costs and resources, particularly those of working towards Investors in People and Lexcel accreditation, and generally getting ‘consortia buying power’ for common expenses like Professional Indemnity cover, information services and Continuing Professional Development courses.

One reason for this is the regulatory changes being brought about by the Legal Services Act.  These are predicted to reduce the number of small firms by more than one third see e.g. here. We believe the prospects for small niche IP/IT law firms like Azrights are excellent.

Clearly, some adjustments will be necessary if small firms want to get some of the benefits of economies of scale that larger firms enjoy, which is why Azrights is exploring the possibility of sharing certain costs and resources with other small IP/IT law firms.  For example, it is very time consuming to get Lexcel accreditation, as there is a need to put in place many systems, procedures and policies.  Additionally, keeping on top of the minutiae of the ever changing Money Laundering, Solicitors Regulation Authority and Solicitors Accounts rules and regulations is challenging for smaller firms.

A possible solution to better manage the time commitment for such matters is to explore sharing some of these costs with other sole practitioner solicitors.  For example, it would be far more cost effective and time efficient if a group of IP/IT law firms were to hire an Investors in People or Lexcel consultant to run through all the generic material with us, spending time individually with each of practice thereafter.  Another benefit of combining forces is to explore the possibility in the future (if regulatory burdens became overwhelming) as a group to employ a part time ex-solicitor working from home to develop expertise in money laundering, SRA rules etc.  Similarly, there could be scope to share CPD costs/events.

This is all at a preliminary exploratory stage and to some extent it depends on the take up and interest from other IP/IT law firms as to what happens next.  If there is insufficient interest among IP sole practitioners for Investors in People and Lexcel, or to buy certain information services like the Encyclopaedia of Forms and Precedents, we may instead combine forces with non IP/IT sole practitioners for certain areas of common interest, and with both IP law firms and trade mark and patent attorneys for other areas of interest.

So, initially I am just targeting sole IP/IT solicitor firms because one of my aims is to harness our buying power for PI insurance, if feasible.  However, once we have this first exploratory meeting it will become clearer how to move forward thereafter.

I propose to set up a meeting early in the New Year to discuss this with any interested solicitor IP/IT sole practitioners, and have written to a number of them asking them to indicate their interest by letting me know:

1.   Whether they prefer a breakfast, lunch or evening meeting and any days of the week or fixed dates that they are unable to accommodate in January or February.

2.   Whether they are interested in applying for Lexcel or Investors in People.

To reduce the barriers presented by distance, the intention is ultimately to use web enabled remote meetings as much as possible in order to keep physical meetings to an absolute minimum.