- Read our cover feature on how retail brands will soon be offering legal advice, here
- “The advantage that household brands will have over the legal profession is that they are recognised, whereas most lawyers are not”, read more here
- Read our case study on QualitySolicitors who “want to become the legal equivalent of Specsavers”, here
- Legal Industry experts give their viewpoints, here
One of the most recognisable brands to signal its intentions in the legal services market is the Co-operative Group. It already has a legal services brand and currently offers will-writing, house buying, personal injury and employment law services, either directly or through a panel of external solicitors.
The changes in the Legal Services Act would allow the Co-op to deliver all of these services directly from a single, in-house law practice. The Co-op has signalled its intention to apply to form this new kind of business structure at the earliest opportunity.
WHSmith (via QualitySolicitors)
As of this month, WHSmith will offer a legal service in 130 of its stores, in the shape of QualitySolicitors concessions. However, WHSmith is not currently allowed to own a stake in the company. Instead, the two have a long-term exclusive contractual arrangement.
Like Specsavers, which began as a collective of independent opticians within Boots stores, QualitySolicitors is an umbrella brand for a group of law firms that have agreed to come together to offer a standardised service. Although WHSmith would be free to buy equity in QualitySolicitors once regulations allow, that is not believed to be part of the newsagent’s current business plan (see Case Study, below).
AA and Saga
Both the AA and Saga, owned by the same group of private equity companies, launched online legal service offerings in November 2010. These provide consumers with templated legal documents, such as a holding letter to a money lender or a pack of divorce documents, that can be drafted online for a fixed fee. Legal services through both brands are provided by Cogent Law.
Cogent’s parent firm Parabis has said that it is investigating taking private equity investment and the Legal Services Act would make it possible for the AA’s and Saga’s owners to buy a stake and share profits, or for either brand to take the legal services they currently provide in-house.
A spokesman for the AA told Marketing Week that no firm plans have been made to change the current arrangement, saying that “in the future we are keeping our options open”. However, he adds that “an internal legal operation might follow”.
Tesco and Virgin Money
Though the Legal Services Act has been dubbed ’Tesco law’, the supermarket has never stated any intention to move into the legal sector.
As with Tesco, Virgin Money has been repeatedly named in speculative reports, but the company says there are no immediate plans to move into the market.