Adoption of ABS Could Lead to Insurance Companies Owning Law Firms
What would happen if personal injury law firms throughout Ontario were controlled by large, profit-driven corporations, including insurance companies? Wouldn't increasing the corporations' profits become the primary focus, while the rights and needs of injury victims become secondary? Wouldn't personal injury lawyers lose the independence they require to represent clients against powerful insurance companies?
These are the matters at stake in the ongoing debate over the proposed adoption of alternative business structures in Ontario. Charles Gluckstein, of Gluckstein Lawyers, continues to be an outspoken opponent of alternative business structures (ABS), which allow for law firms to be bought up by corporations, including insurance companies.
As Gluckstein said in a recent article in Law Times, imagine a situation in which control of lawyers' fees, rehabilitation costs and awards to injury victims fell entirely under the insurance companies' umbrella. Gluckstein noted that this situation has already been allowed to occur in the U.K., where there is no evidence that adoption of ABS has resulted in greater access to justice for consumers.
Additionally, with an ABS model, a personal injury law firm would have little if any incentive to challenge the interests of an insurance company if the insurance company owns the firm. Likewise, even if the corporate owner isn't an insurance company, a personal injury lawyer could be put in a position of having to protect the corporation's brand, which could run counter to clients' legal needs.
Gluckstein Lawyers are a community-oriented firm that is committed to protecting the interests of injury victims, and we will continue to provide updates as the debate over ABS continues.
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