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Michael Burne: A law firm, but not as we know it

Carbon Law Partners’ founder wants to free lawyers from having to run law firms and focus on delivering great legal advice

3 July 2019

A large and airy open space in a converted factory off a Victorian arcade in central Cardiff, with floor-to ceiling windows on one side and cozy sofas in a corner, Carbon Law Partners’ office is everything you might expect from a business hoping to bring a slice of the gig economy to the legal services sector.

Yet, the brainchild of former City solicitor Michael Burne nearly didn’t happen. After qualifying with what is now Dentons, followed by a few years at Allen & Overy, Burne moved in-house at St James’s Place (SJP), where he eventually became head of legal before moving to a project development role.

This, he says, is where he first started thinking about setting up a different kind of law firm, along similar lines to SJP’s structure, where the term ‘partners’ refers to a commonality of enterprise rather than an ownership structure.

The Legal Services Act, Burne thought, would be the opportunity to turn his idea into real...

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