The Bar Council Small Firm Practice and Future of Law Committee (“Committee”) is now completing the Legal Profession (Group Practice) Rules 2017 (“Rules”).
Once implemented, the Rules would allow small law firms to practise and operate as a group (“Group Practice”) by sharing premises, resources and infrastructure, while remaining as separate entities.
The Bar Council has determined that a Group Practice would have the following features:
(1) A Group Practice would consist of a minimum of two small firms or a maximum of five small firms. A small firm would be a firm with not more than five advocates and solicitors;
(2) A small firm with a branch shall not be eligible to join the Group Practice, and a Group Practice shall not have a branch;
(3) A Group Practice would not constitute a partnership or a separate entity. Firms in the Group Practice would remain as separate legal entities, and maintain separate retainers with their respective clients;
(4) A Group Practice would share premises at a common address and infrastructure such as a library, furnishings, and equipment, as well as management services;
(5) A Group Practice shall bear a name with the words “Group Law Practice” as part of its name, and as approved by the Bar Council. The Group Practice name may be used by each firm in the Group Practice in conjunction with the firm’s name in the firm’s documents, letterheads and business cards;
(6) A Group Practice may be managed by a manager, who shall be an employee of any of the firms in the Group Practice;
(7) The firms in the Group Practice may open and operate a common bank account for the purpose of meeting common expenses;
(8) Each firm in the Group Practice shall maintain its own office and accounts separately from the other firms in the Group Practice;
(9) Firms in the Group Practice shall ensure that a confidentiality agreement is executed by all their employees; and
(10) The sole proprietor of a firm in the Group Practice shall appoint another firm in the Group Practice to act in his or her stead in the event of incapacity or death.
The Committee anticipates that the Rules will come into effect soon. Once implemented, the Group Practice would be an attractive and cost-efficient option for practice, for small firms.
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