As you probably know in a general way, the UK is deregulating certain aspects of the legal profession.
But you may not know how fast things are changing. Here is one big consequence reported on the Legal Futures Blog. The blog breaks the story of how a network of solicitors QualitySolicitors is opening up access points in Smith’s Stores. For those who have not wandered down a British “high street,” Smith’s is an ubiquitous bookstore etc chain going back a very long time. And the “high street” still plays much of the role of the US Mall (Often the street itself is closed to traffic).
QualitySolicitors’ (QS) tie-up with WHSmith goes live next week, with “Legal Access Points” (LAPs) going in 130 stores in the first wave, we can reveal – along with first sight of how they will look.
Dozens more law firms are set to join the network this autumn, hand in hand with their LAPs in local branches of the retailer.
They make it sound like a a mobile phone sales booth:
Uniformed staff at the LAP will be able to book appointments, provide conveyancing quotes, sell wills packages and fixed-fee advice sessions, and sign up people to the QS loyalty card scheme, called Legal Privilege.
OMG, is that really a frequent flier card for using a lawyer?
This is what the Legal Access Points will look like:
The LAPs are 2m wide and 2.75m tall, featuring plasma TVs and big signage. Non-lawyers have been recruited and trained to staff them. Mr Holt said it was an “express advantage” to use non-lawyers as it is likely to make the initial contact with consumers more relaxed.
At a minimum, this story shows how far behind we in the US now are in thinking about delivery systems that work for middle income folks. It will be fascinating to see how it works out, and what we can learn from the results.