Monday, 26 March 2012

Ringing the ch-ch-ch-changes on the High Street?

In the past fortnight, QualitySolicitors have launched their private equity backed TV campaign to drive business to their members.  Regulated ABSs are just, well maybe just, around the corner which may see "Tesco" (other quality supermarkets are available) dabble in the consumer legal market.

It is predicted that we will see the 'death of the High Street solicitor' with consumers preferring to buy from brands.

The High Street Solicitor was on their knees anyway.  The Woolf reforms set about, in 1995, a catastrophic turn of events by creating the opportunity for claims management companies to prospect for personal injury claims in return for a referral fee.  The dreaded referral fee took root for conveyancing matters and will writing.  High Street firms found themselves unable to compete on price for referral or scale of operation and thus three stalwarts of their business disappeared.

Whilst some have diversified, become niche or have become effective with social media.  The vast majority, however have struggled on, much down to legacy goodwill and a rather benign banking industry.

The Jackson reforms could have gone some way to turn this around but, I fear, they will be too late.  By the time the take effect, the new entrant ABSs will have delivered the final blow.

Let's mark in history today, however, that ABSs focussed at the consumer market will not succeed solely on the basis that they deliver an alternative. 

The truth is, that there isn't an alternative - the Woolf Reforms "infected" the market almost twenty years ago and we are only seeing the fatalities from this today.

Talking about kicking a man when he is down!

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