Alternative Business Structures
Based on currently available information, I would vote against adopting ABS.
Watching Convocation’s discussion of the TWU accreditation last year made it clear that Benchers are not to make decisions before hearing all the evidence and arguments. Each Bencher should set aside preconceptions, listen to evidence, and make decisions that are –in their opinion– in the best interests of the public, increased access to justice, and the Rule of Law.
I have read many articles and submissions about ABS, and as yet have not seen evidence of clear benefits that could not be reached by less intrusive means. If ABS is the solution to cash flow or capital investment questions for large firms, can they not write business proposals and convince a bank to lend? If ABS is the solution to access to justice (by encouraging non-lawyers to be more involved in the provision of legal services) why not begin by broadening the Paralegal scope of practice? If ABS is touted as both streamlining business practice to make it more affordable and creating a source of new jobs for recent graduates seeking entry into the profession, how do streamlining and hiring go together?
It is my understanding that Convocation does not need to vote to keep the status quo. Rather the introduction of a new policy requires a majority vote for change. I would vote for ABS if I were convinced that it would improve a system that I acknowledge could use improvement. Nothing I have seen to date clearly sets out who benefits from ABS and how. If no further evidence is provided and no better arguments are made, I do not see how, in good conscience I could vote for that change.