Radical reforms nicknamed ‘Tesco Law’, stemming from the 2007 Legal Services Act, will soon give personal injury solicitors a run for their money when banks, grocers, and outsourcing companies can begin providing legal services to the general public from October 6.
While the supermarket giant has been more interested in competing with beauty parlours and banking institutions than seeking personal injury compensation for clients, the threat exists. The 17 million weekly customers of the Co-Operative has been seeing legal services such as personal injury claims, employment, and conveyancing solicitors. Likewise Halifax has a new ‘Legal Express’ online service that charges as little as £48 in some cases to draw up a will.
Professional regulatory organisation the Legal Services Board expects that October will see the first ventures utilising alternative business structures to become licensed. The new ABS rules will allow non-lawyers to share management practices with solicitors.
This will result in improvements to access to finance, provide the convenience of a single point of service with retailers, banks, and other entities, and also allow an increase in efficiency and economy of scale.
More traditional solicitor firms have already begun to come up with strategies in response to the new alternative business structure rules. Weaker practices are likely to be muscled out of the market with the arrival of new, well-financed entrants. Likewise the influx will create downward pressure on fees and work to make the entire profession have greater transparency.
Many traditional and well-known firms have been seriously considering their plans for the future in light of the new competition and deciding on their plans of action in their quest to preserve as much of their market share as they can possibly retain.