At a time when many lawyers don’t even want to be lawyers, we ask the question “what is driving the demand for Alternative Business Structures?”
Today, legal expenses insurer DAS has taken the next step in its preparations to become an alternative business structure (ABS) by acquiring online legal services company Everything Legal.
Do they really want to be lawyers or do they want to target the soft underbelly of the legal services market – ‘the low-hanging fruit’ as they see it – and leave the tricky, problematic and challenging lawyering stuff to local firms who employ qualified solicitors?
We have seen Amanda Holden wax lyrical on Good Morning recently as she ‘helpfully’ and uninvitedly highlighted the evils of High Street law firms whilst extolling the as yet unproven virtues of her new employers.
These would be the very same employers who are relying on said High Street firms signing up for their new franchise in order to deliver legal services in towns and cities the length and breadth of the UK.
Will the public get a better service because law firms have a shiny new sign above the door?
Are the public THAT gullible?
There are quite a few legal brands jostling for position in a market they claim is ripe for re-structuring. They claim that the public have been ripped-off for years by unscrupulous, money-grabbing shysters who fleece their clients and pocket fat fees for old rope.
However, the truly ‘ironical bit’ is that they actually think that their brand new brand will instantly engender client loyalty and referrals as they seek to deal the ‘coup de grace’ to local solicitors…by positioning themselves as trusted legal advisors.
The mixed message that these brands must sell is this:
“Existing lawyers bad – new lawyers good.”
As for the big beasts in the jungle, aka the ‘supermarket sweepers’, whose legal services business model is predicated on hoovering up everything that they think they can plaster their brand across – AND DELIVER AS CHEAPLY AS POSSIBLE…
Sorry, we know that this might sound a bit petty and small-minded and self-serving or even insular and parochial, but actually we don’t wish any of them well in their endeavours.
Easy one this…
It’s because we and firms like us the length and breadth of Britain are the best legal services option for the British public.
Experience, expertise and empathy with a client’s case go a long way to reassuring people that solicitors have their best interests at heart.
When all is said and done, in the brave new world of ABS, is the public going to be any the wiser about how to choose a lawyer?
On 24th November, the legal sector’s consumer watchdog warned that voluntary quality
marks should not be made mandatory to access part of the market as this could ‘usurp’ the role of regulators.
Elisabeth Davies, chair of the Legal Services Consumer Panel, said:
‘Consumers tell us that specialist expertise is important to them when choosing lawyers.However, in their current form, some voluntary membership scheme claims that their members are better than the market average just can’t be relied upon by consumers.’
The watchword for the public here is ask for a personal referral from family and friends and / or trust the tried and tested specialist legal regulators.
Despite the blurb, do not rely on a ‘flag of convenience.’