Thompsons Solicitors’ Senior Partner, Frank Maguire has warned that Alternative Business Structures for solicitors, commonly known as “Tesco law” will undermine the profession’s integrity and independence.
Mr Maguire voiced his concerns over the dangers of allowing legal firms to raise capital from outside investors, while banks and supermarkets could offer a full range of legal services in an interview with the Herald newspaper.
Mr Maguire told the Herald he believes that by allowing non-lawyers to open legal services will be a blessing only for organised crime as it would be impossible to monitor whether those running the new firms had criminal records.
“If you had a legal firm, or someone wanted to set up a legal services-provider, that could in future be done by a drug baron who could use it as a legitimate front to launder money,” he told The Herald.
“If we opened up legal services then sophisticated organised criminal networks would be able to run them or put their own people in place.
“The financial memorandum says there is £1,300 to monitor whether those opening new firms have criminal records. Even £100,000 would not cover it.
“It means putting in jeopardy the independence and integrity of the legal profession. Those working in such businesses would not even have to be lawyers under the Bill. They could be legal service-providers with just one lawyer.
“Lawyers are no angels but we don’t just work for profit. There is also an element of public service. This Bill has been looked at in terms of profit but what will the public really gain?”