Yesterday marked a red letter day in legal services after rules liberalising ownership of law firms came into force.
The Legal Services Act 2007 had been much heralded as an opportunity for major high street brands to begin marketing services from branches and stores.
The Co-operative Group was ahead of the pack and dominated coverage in mainstream media on the day of the launch and it was well positioned to explain the potential benefits of liberalisation.
The high street is clearly ready for change. The Legal Services Survey 2011 found that 26% of consumers would be prepared to visit a supermarket to obtain legal advice, a fact supported by a survey in the Guardian this week.
However, the importance of moving the product forward in a high street environment appears to be the next challenge and fixed fees could be one of the key battlegrounds.
The Legal Services Survey 2011 found that of the most important factors influencing consumers’ decisions were personal recommendation (43%) and whether fixed fees were on offer (17%).
On the latter issue, Jonathan Gulliford director of sales and marketing at Co-operative Legal Services, was keen to point out that fixed fees would be a major part of any offering coming from his brand.
However, media debate on the topic appears to be focused on whether consumers would trust the brands they identify with on the high street to sell them legal services.
In our view, if the market is being forced to get up close and personal then transparent, fixed pricing structures could be the marketing battleground of the future.