Internationally, Australia is recognised as a world leader in innovative business structures for law firms. Australia’s two publicly listed law firms have been gaining most of the attention in this regard. However, another important trend is emerging – the ownership of law firms by not-for-profit organisations.
By next week, independent law firm Australian Business Lawyers will become fully owned by employer organisation NSW Business Chamber. Australian Business Lawyers is currently comprised of 5 partners and over 30 professional staff.
NSW Business Chamber is one of Australia’s largest business support groups, helping over 22,000 businesses each year. It has stated that one of the reasons for the acquisition is “the further growth of the firm – with the financial backing and additional resources of the NSW Business Chamber.”
Earlier this year, The Salvation Army announced plans to open a commercial law firm in the Sydney CBD which will charge market rates to do property and conveyancing law.
A member organisation with one of the longest track records of profiting from legal services is The Pharmacy Guild of Australia. The law firm trading as Guild Lawyers is a fully owned subsidiary of Guild Group Holdings Limited, which itself is a fully owned subsidiary of The Pharmacy Guild of Australia. Guild Lawyers actively promotes its services to corporate and private clients who are outside of the pharmacy sector.
More charities and member organisations may follow this lead if they too believe that there is a profit to be made from owning a law firm.
Links to Australian Business Lawyers, Guild Lawyers and Salvos Legal