Retail law firm: Is this a major innovation in law firm marketing?

Last week I had a rather interesting and heated debate with someone on Twitter following a news link he had posted:

QualitySolicitors, which launched in May this year, announced its plans to open a number of its new branches in shopping centres with extended opening hours and a “range of new innovations designed to transform how people access legal services”.

My response to the “what do you think of this?” tweet was “I think it’s a great idea!”.

In my opinion this is a positive step forwards in making legal services accessible and removing many of the barriers to seeking legal advice. Times have changed, law is not the revered profession it once was and lawyers have to adapt to a more competitive market.

I’m not convinced that it has a place for commercial legal services but for private client services I think it makes sense and is a positive step to move with the times. My adversary’s view, however, was quite the opposite.

His opinion is that by putting legal advice into a retail environment you devalue the service and this will lead to the “dumbing down” of legal advice. His view that the “city centre mentality” (a consumer on the high street wants fast information now, is in a hurry, wants to grab a coffee, have lunch, get back to the car before the parking runs out etc….) is not conducive with complex and potentially far reaching subjects such as banking or legal advice.

I was intrigued by his comments so put the debate on to a LinkedIn Legal Marketing group to what others think. The comments I received back included:

“I’ve got a suspicion that building a strong legal brand that consumers trust may just work at the high street level.”

“Excellent modern approach to funnel clients to solicitors and barristers?”

“I think it’s a great idea! The prospect of needing to seek for legal advice is really daunting for a lot of people (and often in really stressful circumstances), so this will ease the process somewhat.”

“Great branding idea. Isn’t it all a bit like Ryanair or Specsavers – you get what you pay for.”

So it seems that the LinkedIn users who read and commented on my posting share a similar opinion to me.

Whatever your personal opinion there is no doubt that the legal landscape is changing.  With potential new entrants to the market in 2011 following the implementation of the Legal Services Act, competition is only likely to get fiercer and law firm marketing may need to become even more innovative for firms to maintain market position. Perhaps this is the thin end of the wedge?

If you have any views to share on the first ever legal retail store or innovation in law firm marketing please comment below.

If you are a law firm in need of some guidance on strategic direction and innovative marketing please don’t hesitate to give Straight Marketing a call 0n 07754 375078 or click here.