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SRA approves first costs specialist ABS


Shenton: platform to expand

Just Costs has become the first specialist costs practice to become an alternative business structure (ABS) after being awarded its licence by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

The solicitors’ firm, which has nearly 100 staff based at offices in Manchester, London and Chesterfield, had to become an ABS as it was already a legal disciplinary practice (LDP) with a non-lawyer partner – company secretary and client services director Mark Hartigan.

However, the firm said it has set up a working committee to look at the business’s future direction as an ABS.

Managing director Paul Shenton – a barrister-turned-solicitor who previously established and headed up Eversheds’ costs practice – told Litigation Futures that even if the firm had not been an LDP, it would have explored ABS status because it allows “far more flexibility on who we can recruit” as partners/directors and also the ability to reward existing non-lawyer staff.

To coincide with the ABS approval, solicitor Chris Murphy and costs lawyer Nick McDonnell will be appointed as directors.

Mr Shenton said ABS status should help the firm grow and “meet the not inconsiderable challenges in the market” given the upcoming reforms to civil costs. He continued: “This is a milestone for Just Costs. We are ambitious to continue our expansion and as an ABS we now have the platform to do so.”

Just Costs has been trading since 2006 and turnover has risen from £1.1m in its first year to £5.1m in 2012.