The UK's Legal Services Act 2007 liberalized legal services to permit alternative business structures (ABS) (including non-lawyer owners), and the 2011 Legal Services Act finally authorized external investments in law firms. Although many UK firms successfully applied for ABS status, it wasn't until last year that Birmingham-based Gately became the first to go public. Gately now continuing to grow, and its ablility as a company rather than law firm to build capital and integrate other professional services will give it an advantage over the traditional law firm model.
Unfortunately, the US, hampered by overly protectionist bar associations and the power of incumbent big law status quo defenders, has stifled the structural innovation needed to bring legal services into the modern era.
The U.K.'s first publicly listed law firm has continued its post-IPO expansion, acquiring property consultancy Hamer Associates for $2.68 million.