Nicholas Jervis, Solicitor (non-practising) and Managing Director of Loyalty Law
So the Co-Op has explained that it plans to expand its legal services and open 5 regional law centres and expand into family law services, creating 3,000 new jobs in the process. The legal services market is clearly opening up. Is there still a future for smaller law firms or will the Co-Op dominate the legal services market place?
The ability for the Co-Op to make such an impact in the legal services market was officially created by the Legal Services Act. Whereas most people in the legal services world and outside expected Tesco Law to be the biggest non-legal provider of services, the Co-Op signalled their intentions before the Act came into force by employing Eddie Ryan who had previously set up the in-house legal services team at the RAC (later swallowed up by insurance giant Aviva). Tesco Law has failed to materialise… yet.
The Co-Op currently operates from Bristol, not far from Loyalty Law’s headquarters, employing 450 staff in its legal services market. However, it plans to open 5 regional legal service centres as well as expanding the legal services offered in branches of Britannia Building Society and The Co-operative Bank to all 330 high street branches across the UK.
As legal service providers ourselves, through our network of specialist solicitors across England, Wales and Scotland, how do we feel about giants like Co-Op entering the legal services market place? Well, we see it as a positive move. Ultimately, the choice about who provides their legal services should always rest with you, the clients. Co-Op Legal Services undoubtedly huge marketing budget to promote their legal services will raise awareness of all legal services. We all know that about 70% of people who should have a Will do not have one. This means millions of pounds fall into the Government’s coffers each year instead of going to friends and family members as the person would have stipulated had they made a Will. So if more people are made aware of the fact that they should make a Will then this alone is a good thing. I know that the Co-Op will do this, as holding a Britannia Building Society account I have already been told I will win some Bonus Points if I make a Will with them. No doubt more obvious promotion of their legal services will follow.
So if awareness is increased about the Legal Services people should be buying, there will be more consumption of Legal Services by everyone. Will all of this extra consumption just go to the Co-Op? No. Clearly some of it will, but undoubtedly much of it will also go elsewhere. People may decide that whilst they are happy to buy their groceries and put money into the Co-Op Bank, they may still want to go to a traditional firm of solicitors for their specialist legal service.
This is why we set up Loyalty Law, to provide our member firms with an umbrella brand to reach out to the public and let them have another choice for the provider of their legal services. Ultimately it is the public who will decide, so it makes it an interesting time to be involved in the Legal Services Market Place.
Author: Nicholas Jervis