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Lawyers All Change


From our recent piece we have received a few calls asking us what we think will be the fallout from the so called Tesco Laws.

Well things are going to change!

The is bad news for most lawyers who much prefer to bury their heads in the sand and hope that change will go away.
Sorry guys, sorry Gentlemen I mean, I forgot the industry, apologies again the Profession I am addressing and this is much of the problem with many practitioners never having been exposed to the modern business world.

Although Tesco, to the best of my knowledge, has never made a statement on chasing after market share in a highly fragmented market, prime for consolidation it doesn’t mean that they won’t sit in the wings monitoring the success or otherwise of the Co-op.

A useful parallel would be M & S which amongst retailers lead the pack in financial services by pioneering a joint venture, a model followed a few years later, by amongst other Tesco.

But what will third party consolidators chase? The low hanging fruit of course, the commodity products, which have volume and can be distributed through retail. Conveyancing, wills, probate will be the obvious targets but we wouldn’t expect them to target “difficult” areas like divorce in the first instance owing to concern about the damage to brand values. They will also stay well away from the domain of business lawyers as this is much too tricky and risky area for commodity traders.

If this analysis is right what will happen?

  •  Single office, high street based general Lawyers will largely disappear over a generation.
  • Smaller partnerships will merge on a local/regional basis in an attempt to gain critical mass and to reduce costs. This is already happening
  • Specialisation could well increase – we are seeing it with the loathsome Ambulance chasing brigade but could see for example on line conveyancing factories established.
  • Business Lawyers within partnerships could recognise the inevitable and vote with their feet and go off and join specialist umbrella organisations which are focussed just on Business Law, backing themselves to run their own show.
  • The biggest practitioners will initially get bigger but will be under severe cost pressure from the more nimble Business Lawyers operating in lower cost centres and over the internet and will themselves have to reorganise or outsource anything that smells of commodity.
  • The consumer, whether it is B2B or B2C will learn to shop on line just as they have for basic insurances, travel and many more retail products and if the offering smacks of commodity it will be price driven.
  • The need to stand out from the crowd will increase. The consumer will draw comfort from brand strength such as the Co-op – old established, traditional (with modern twists) customer focused, friendly and approachable and certainly accessible either on or off line.
  • There is a gap in the market for a business layer brand but of the names chasing this sector at present all remain routed in the baggage of yesteryear, but it will happen.

The times they are a changing – but in the garden of law the aroma of roses is being overpowered by manure.

For those with their heads in the sand – good bye.

 

Author: Chris Slay

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