Essential law advice for business owners and London’s entrepreneurs
Important changes to the law have occurred. You need to know about them. That’s why we’re running Spotlight on Law Week all this week and introducing Legal Connections, a directory of London’s top law firms.
Your guide for the week will be Jonathan Ames, former editor of The Lawyer and one of the UK’s most experienced legal and business journalists. He’ll explain the latest big shifts in UK law affecting business owners and entrepreneurs, from pre-nups that protect your business to what sort of service you should expect from your lawyer.
Here Ames explains how the role of the corporate lawyer has been transformed…
By Jonathan Ames
For years, the English legal profession has been a cosy coterie of professionals speaking their own language that seemed designed to confuse clients.
But, thankfully, the days when business owners traipsed along to dusty offices, to be patronised and relieved of their cash for advice dished out in a format they didn’t understand, are over.
It’s been a long journey.
In the last two decades, many solicitors’ practices became ‘law firms’ run more along the lines of merchant banks and global footprints rivalling the accounting giants.
For a small or medium-sized enterprise, a visit to these lawyers was often tantamount to a session at the dentist, although far more expensive and potentially frustrating. So much so, that many would rather run the dangerous risk of not seeking legal advice in relation crucially important business matters.
But now the pendulum is swinging back.
A raft of legislation has been aimed at modernising the legal profession, and, not least, at shattering traditional monopolies and closed shops.
The profession has become more ‘consumer friendly’, and the pool of potential legal advisers wider. At the forefront of these changes are our four legal partners: asb law, Bracewell Law, Cripps Harries Hall and Bates Wells & Braithwaite.
These four boutique firms make up Legal Connections, with each firm excelling in different areas.
Five years ago The Legal Services Act 2007 was passed – and has been welcomed and reviled by lawyers with almost equal measure. And not without cause; the Act has the potential to revolutionise the delivery of legal services – both to individuals and to business – across England and Wales.
All this week and in the months to come, LondonlovesBusiness.com will be at the forefront of explaining the implications of the new legal landscape to existing and future entrepreneurs.
For as frustrating and complicated as the law is, no business – regardless of size – can afford to ignore it.
The law affects every area of commerce; from the core basics of setting up premises, to contracts with suppliers and customers, to the terms on which a nascent business employs its staff.
And there are other complexities too, not least intellectual property issues swirling around what a business actually makes or the services it provides. Competition matters over relations with rivals, and dispute resolution techniques needed for the times when any of those issues turns sour.
Seeking advice on these matters – and deciding from whom to seek it in an increasingly diverse and competitive market – needn’t be traumatic.
Doubtless there remains Luddites in the legal sector who insist that advice not dispensed in legalese from behind the safety of an immense leather-topped desk is not worth hearing.
However, there is a growing band of modern, forward-thinking law firms that understands that the provision of legal advice is a service to clients rather than a set of commandments to be handed down Moses-like.
With Spotlight on Law Week, LondonlovesBusiness.com is launching legal affairs coverage that focusses on what SMEs need to know about the current state of the law affecting their business, and, importantly, targeting innovative legal practices that will make navigating the legal world easier – and without the pain of having a molar extracted.