We're still waiting for Scottish ABSs to go live (and unlike those in England and Wales, lawyer-majority ownership will be required), but this article by the ever-challenging (in a good way) Stephen Gold questions the knee-jerk opposition to non-lawyer ownership of legal practices.
Thus far (and I want to stress that, as three years remains a relatively short time to judge ABSs), we have been given little reason to see non-lawyer ownership as a bad thing in terms of impinging on the independence or quality of legal advice.
That's what matters. It may be that non-lawyer ownership has been of questionable merit in terms of the business decisions and practices of some ABSs (Quindell's accounting practices being a topical example), but plenty of law firms have made bad business decisions too. It doesn't mean ABSs shouldn't be allowed.
ABS opponents have taken much pleasure in the problems of Quindell and the Co-op (and of QualitySolicitors, which though not an ABS does have external investment), but until we see non-lawyer ownership damaging the ethical and professional standards of those delivering the legal advice, my response to them is a big shrug.
In contrast to England & Wales, not to mention Australia and imminently Canada, the prevailing view in Scotland is that lawyers and non-lawyers are not better together, unless the former are in command, and the latter restricted to 49% of the enterprise. Indeed, judging by their rhetoric, to some of our profession a law firm owned by non-lawyers is the work of the devil.