After struggling under the weight of unexpected and unfair legal costs, poor customer service from your employment law firm and limited choice of legal providers offering something truly different, you’ve decided to recommend an Alternative Business Structure (ABS) to access specialist employment law advisory services.

You know the benefits of being able to access multiple integrated services from the same company, with a greater focus on customer experience, innovation and fairer pricing.

But now it’s time to sell it to the board.

While it’s clear how a traditional law firms work (they’ve not really changed in 800 years!), selling the benefits of an ABS presents its own challenges.

At ESP, we’ve helped many of our customers through the process of presenting the business case for switching from a traditional law firm to an ABS.

Here I reveal the most successful and effective benefits worth presenting in your business case if you’re looking to ‘sell’ these new types of law firms to your board.

Lower costs and tighter budgetary control

If you need to prove to your board why a move to an ABS would make sense, one sure-fire way to make them sit up and listen is by telling them that it makes financial sense.

This new model brings two key benefits; lower costs and fixed pricing.

Here’s how…

The government introduced the ABS model as part of the Legal Services Act, with the aim of promoting more competition in the legal services market and so driving down legal fees for the customer.

The majority of traditional law firms charge their customers exorbitant hourly rates to use their services, meaning you risk your legal costs escalating when something unexpected crops up. The good news is, because of the flexibility of the ABS model, you can leave behind this increasingly outdated pricing model in favour of low-cost, fixed annual subscriptions for unlimited advice.

You know exactly how much your legal spend will be each year and can budget accordingly.

For example, based on a survey we conducted this year, our customers saved an average of 40% on their specialist legal spend compared to previous years.

With these kinds of savings and with a fixed, guaranteed budget, you may have more resources and funding to spend on other strategic business projects.

This should be music to the ears of your execs.

Exactly the same specialist legal advice

If you’re concerned that all this seems a bit new and unchartered – and that you may not get the same high-quality legal advice you have been assured of receiving from a traditional law firm, then fret no longer. It’s a myth that just because it is lower cost it is lower value.

An ABS is still regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) meaning it has to adhere to all the same standards as traditional law firms. There is no reduction in process or cutting corners (in fact, there are more onerous regulatory and financial requirements on ABS’s compared with traditional law firms).

At ESP, our ABS status allows us to recruit top employment solicitors from top city law firms, so you will receive quality commercial and business focused advice included within your annual subscription. You’ll have access to exactly the same legal professional as you would in a traditional firm, without the hefty price tag and with an improved standard of customer service.

If you are still unsure, then talk to a few ABS firms. Ask them about their business model, the quality of the people behind the scenes and who will be providing you with employment law support. Then compare what advice you are getting now, with what you could receive from these new providers – and take your findings to the board.

Enhanced customer experience

In most other industries, customers expect to shop around for the highest quality, best value and most convenient service for their needs. Nothing new there.

The traditional legal services market, however, doesn’t seem to have got the memo.

Until now, it seems the traditional law firm’s approach to new competition has been to question these new ‘upstarts’ credentials and offer up some ‘token pricing discounts’ as a gesture of good faith – or ‘tack’ on an insurance cover for Employment Tribunals to their advisory service…and expect the market to swarm back into their arms. ABSs are pushing the legal sector into the 21st century by taking the time to truly understand their customer and meet their needs and offering higher standards of customer care.

And it appears to be working – according to research by the Legal Services Board, ABSs are more productive, more innovative and better at dealing with complaints than traditional law firms. (1)

Many ABSs have invested in new technology and innovation to enhance the customer experience and offer more modern working practices. There has been a concerted move towards digital provision, so expect to access advice via their blogs or social media profiles, have virtual consultations or download online documents.

It will be so much more convenient too, as you’ll be able to access a range of HR services under one ABS roof, such as specialist employment law advice, on-site HR consultancy support, E-learning training tools and resources, online HR administration system support and online HR resources…all within one integrated tailored service programme – which can save the busy HR professional a great deal of time and money…and enable you to focus on more strategic issues.


If you’re considering using an ABS for your employment law support, hopefully this blog will help you put together your business case, so that you can prove to the board why such a move will not only be beneficial to the HR department, but the whole organisation too.

Discover how your HR team can benefit from the new legal changes. Click here to download our Legal Services Act white paper now.


  1. 'Evaluation: Changes in competition in different legal markets’ Legal Services Board, October 2013

We are the HR and employment law experts from esphr.

It’s our mission to advise and develop the employment law capability of HR professionals wherever we can, helping HR teams make a real commercial difference to their organisations. That way, you spend less time solving operational issues and more time actioning projects that drive far-reaching change in your company.

Call 0333 006 2929 or email info@esphr.co.uk today to discover exactly how we can help you.


Author: Peter Byrne

Founder, ESP Group

Pete set up ESP Group in March 2003, after running an HR resource management business for three years. 

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