According to an Accountancy Age article published in 2016, many small business owners “would prefer to sort legal issues out themselves or turn to a trusted accountant rather than use formal legal services”.
The article commented on a response made by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) to a study of the legal services market by the Competition and Markets Authority. In the article, they explained that the FSB had observed that “perceptions around the high costs of engaging legal professionals and the open-ended nature of legal proceedings often played into the hands of accountants” and as such “lawyers are seen as a last resort option for small businesses after first seeking self-help solutions or using accountants.”
It seems that the strength of the relationship between a client and their accountant, as ‘trusted adviser’, means they are often well placed to find the best solution – be that something they can provide in-house or by bringing in another trusted partner to provide a specialist service.
The article concluded by quoting from the FSB response where they said that accountants “might be trusted because of their expertise and existing relationship with the small business and can help the small business find the best option in what is a difficult to navigate sector.”
It added that “they bypass the need for the business to search the market for providers because they have options readily available. They rationalise some of the available market information into a form understandable and usable by a small business, which then enables them to make a more informed (if not fully informed) choice.”
It is in response to exactly these issues that we have added legal services to our offering of specialist services for accountants.
The LC Legal team are able to advise on a wide range of corporate and commercial areas including employment matters, contract disputes, and regulatory issues which allow accountants to provide their SME clients with partner-led legal solutions on a cost-effective basis.
Whilst there is a wealth of specialist technical expertise within the team, many of the situations where they have assisted accountants recently are surprisingly straightforward but nonetheless important. Here are a few examples:
- Advised two individuals who were being made redundant on the terms of their offer, provided technical guidance and reassurance and helped negotiate an acceptable settlement
- Helped a former employee negotiate and complete a purchase of the business from the previous owner. This included sale contract and share purchase agreement as well as dealing with all the bank security documentation
- Drafting a number of basic shareholder agreements for SME businesses to tight timescales and for hundreds of pounds rather than thousands
Both you and your clients can access high-quality legal advice at no cost for the initial meeting, followed by discounted fees after that.
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