Tuesday 24 April 2012 by John Hyde

A personal injury firm based in Cardiff has become the first Welsh practice to be licenced as an alternative business structure (ABS).

NewLaw Legal, founded in 2004, was confirmed as the fourth ABS by the Solicitors Regulation Authority today.

It is also the first legal disciplinary practice to be passported to ABS status, having already brought non-lawyers in to the management structure.

Helen Molyneux, chief executive of NewLaw Legal, said: 'NewLaw was founded in anticipation of the legal services market being opened up to non-lawyer ownership.

'Since then we have shaped the business to take on a corporate structure in anticipation of this moment. Our ABS status will give added momentum to the joint venture business strategies that we have been evolving for some time.'

The announcement follows the first three ABSs to be granted a licence last month: Co-operative Legal Services, John Welch & Stammers and Lawbridge Solicitors.

Lowri Morgan, Law Society manager for Wales, said it was a 'historic day' as the principality entered the new era of legal services.

She added: 'While NewLaw is the first legal practice to become an alternative business structure in Wales under the reforms to the way law firms are owned, I have no doubt others will follow.'

NewLaw has around 270 staff, 65 of who are solicitors.

SRA chair Charles Plant last week said that 74 applications for ABS status were at an advanced stage.

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