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Time for a more fulsome debate on ABS

The controversy around consumer law giant Slater & Gordon shouldn’t be used as a pretext to shut down debate in Canada around adopting Alternative Business Structures (ABS) for law firms, says BridgePoint Indemnity Company Chairman and CEO John Rossos.

“Let’s take a look at ABS as a potential structure and think about how it can be implemented in a way that addresses the legitimate concerns of the legal profession while advancing sound public policy,” he tells AdvocateDaily.com.

“So as long as the system is designed appropriately, in my view, ABS can be a powerful force that can significantly enhance the competitiveness of the legal services market. However, I think it’s important to ensure that we balance the interests involved. We are dealing with the legal profession and there are certain principles governing the special status and obligations of lawyers to the general public that are inviolable and require protection.”

Currently, it’s illegal in Canada for non-lawyers to own law firms. The issue was a hot-button one in the recent Law Society of Upper Canada bencher election.

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