The Legal Services Act – what does it mean for me?

Armstrong Watson’s specialist legal sector team recently hosted two seminars for lawyers in conjunction with RBS, Leeds Law Society and Sheffield Law Society. I spoke, alongside Professor Stephen Mayson and Stuart Bushell of SIFA, on the subject of the Legal Services Act and the implications for the future legal landscape. 

We were delighted, but not surprised given the big name speakers and the importance of the subject matter, to have over 80 delegates register for each event. The seminars were very well received and both the presentations and panel discussions revealed several themes that I will summarise in this article. 

My role was to set the scene in terms of what I have already seen happening to.date throughout the UK, and beyond. This remit covered:

  • New entrants to the market including: 
    • Rocket Lawyer 
    • Law Pivot 
    • The co.op 
    • Right Move/In-Deed 
    • Halifax 
    • LawVest 
  • Alliances that have been established to provide existing law firms with a mechanism for competing with the new entrants, and also, in some cases, for operating more efficiently including: 
    • Quality Solicitors 
    • Contact Law 
    • Simplify the Law 
    • The Legal Alliance 
    • Face2Face Solicitors 
    • Lawyers2you 
    • High Street Lawyer 
    • Connect2Law 
  • The attitude of external investors 
  • Flotation 
  • Consolidators 
  • Responses that I am seeing in practice from law firms including:
    • Joining alliances
    • Merging
    • Outsourcing
    • Virtual law firms
    • Increasing use of technology
    • Changing the way that legal services are provided to clients 
    • Increasing access to legal services by opening longer, being available at lunch and weekends and by remote/website servicing 
    • Niche focus 
    • White labelling 

I then concluded my session with a detailed review of a particular law firm as a case study in how firms are responding with some quite innovative solutions. 

Professor Stephen Mayson then covered the pressures driving the changes and the impact of the reforms on both the public at large and law firms in particular. 

Stuart Bushell then spoke about the importance for law firms of retaining ongoing relationships with clients, rather than in isolated circumstances, particularly as new suppliers enter the market place. 

The responses from delegates showed that firms are looking to evolve to respond to the new challenges and recurring themes were raised by delegates and covered throughout each presentation, including: 

  • •How will clients/consumers choose legal providers in the future? 
  • How do clients/consumers want their legal service to be provided? 
  • Can services be delivered remotely/over the internet/in shops? 
  • Will there be different tiers of legal service provision? 
  • How can law firms provide legal services more efficiently? 
  • What areas will the new entrants concentrate on? 
  • Are all areas of law to change? 
  • Will the use and number of lawyers reduce as more use is made of unqualified advisers? 
  • Will the use and number of lawyers reduce as more work is passed to clients through legal document assembly systems? 
  • Can law firms still make good margins by adding value in a smaller stage of service provision? 

The Armstrong Watson legal sector team is working with law firms throughout the country on their strategic positioning and how they can respond to the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities that face them. Please contact your local office to arrange to further discuss how we can help you, or contact me on 07828 857830 or andy.poole@armstrongwatson.co.uk

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