- 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
- Check out top brands discussing their legal plans, here
- Legal Industry experts give their viewpoints, here
QualitySolicitors is the established legal industry’s response to the competitive threat presented by the changes in the Legal Services Act. Anticipating that consumer brands like the Co-op, the AA and Saga are likely to knock many small practices out of the market with the weight of their marketing budgets, a group of solicitors have decided to collaborate, forming a standardised high street service across the country.
Chief operating officer Saleem Arif explains: “We want to become the legal equivalent of Specsavers, which revolutionised the optical services market by bringing together independent opticians under one brand, standardising the elements of the service and marketing that very hard. QualitySolicitors has gone from zero in May last year to 200 branches. By October, we aim to have 300 branches throughout the UK.”
As well as having its own branded outlets, QualitySolicitors has signed an exclusive, long-term deal with WHSmith to place ’legal access point’ areas and sales staff in its stores. These will allow people to make solicitor appointments, provide conveyancing quotes, sell will-making ’packages’ and sign people up to the ’Legal Privilege’ loyalty scheme.
It aims to have the access points in up to 500 WHSmith branches, with 130 having been installed at the beginning of August.
“It is probably the biggest move anyone has ever made in the legal market,” Arif says.
WHSmith will have the option of investing in QualitySolicitors once a regulator is appointed to oversee implementation of the Legal Services Act at the end of this year.
Although Arif acknowledges that this could be possible “at some point in the future”, he says it is not yet part of the business’s plans.
However, Arif says legal services represent added diversity for the newsagent’s business model. “Despite having reported record results this year and £90m profits, WHSmith is aware that some of its core business, such as books, DVDs and CDs, is on the decline. This is an opportunity to be first to market in a totally new area.”
For the law firms that form the QualitySolicitors group, this is a bid to ensure survival once consumer brands with big marketing budgets enter the legal services market.
The group is making a pre-emptive marketing strike from September with two TV ads, featuring actress and presenter Amanda Holden, informing consumers of its new and expanding presence on the high street and in WHSmith.