I was getting a bit frustrated with all the gnashing of teeth and wailing from lawyers I encountered as I did various training sessions and consultancy assignments around the country recently – it was if the legal market deregulation was a surprise. It’s been on its way for such a long time I was saddened to witness the classic “ignore the opportunity until it becomes a threat” attitude.
Anyway, a small news item caught my eye this week that suggests one of the first new entrants into the brave new ABS (Alternative Business Structures) world will indeed be from outside the legal sector but not from one of the High Street monoliths.
Solicitors Journal this week reported that Ajaz Ahmed, co-founder of Freeserve (launched by Dixons in 1998 and sold for £1bn three years later), set up an online legal service called LEGAL365.Com. It is owned and operated by a relatively small Yorkshire law firm called Last Cawthra Feather.
Taking a look at the site, it’s nice and friendly. The underlying technology appears to be that which is available to all law firms but the marketing is neat – there’s a dinky little video explaining the service with the line “love them or hate them you’ll need a lawyer one day”. It also recognises the importance of a benefit oriented strapline with “You’ll be glad you did” concentrating on the reassurance and peace of mind on offer.
There are plain-English law guides demystifying the whole process, fixed fees throughout and the option to DIY or have your documents “lawyer reviewed”. There’s also a whole bunch of free letters to use in common situations such as challenging a parking ticket or requesting maternity leave. This isn’t exactly rocket science but it’s good to see someone trying to produce a more client-friendly service.
Be warned though, I noticed that amongst the numerous helpful, everyday issues (such as identity theft) there were also services to help with complaints against solicitors, barristers, accountants and surveyors. How bold.