As writer Jon Robins explains, Quality Solicitors is more of a “network,” and:
… is arguably the first-ever legal services “brand”, complete with distinctive shopfronts for its 170 branches, supported by a national television campaign and its promise of a better deal for consumers (“free first consultation… no hidden costs … same-day response … direct lawyer contact…”).
This is clearly more of a consumer play, and (at least for now) not a flanking maneuver on UK’s version of BigLaw (aka the “Magic Circle” and those close on their heels). Corporate observers are following it closely, however, in advance of the coming reforms in the UK which will permit non-lawyer ownership of law firms.
So will we see a version of Quality Solicitors on this side of the pond? Well, some of us feel a bit like we have heard this story before. Joel Hyatt founded Hyatt Legal Services back in 1977, and it was heralded as a game-changer. It actually followed the path blazed by Jacoby & Meyers, the first consumer-focused, multi-office law firm that took on the old-line state bar advertising restrictions. And won. (Updated: See the comment of Len Jacoby below to the original version).
Unlike Jacoby & Meyers, which still continues today, Hyatt Legal Services ultimately morphed into a legal plan that was acquired by MetLife. It was, to be fair, long before the Internet and both firms were heavily focused on television advertising. New entrants like Quality Solicitors are able to take advantage of new, lower-cost ways to connect with potential clients.
To my mind, the biggest challenge in the consumer legal space? Educating people as to why they need a lawyer in the first place, and then getting them to spend even 10 bucks of their own money on it ($25 if you are Len Jacoby; $20 if you are Joel Hyatt). Injury or accident claims are clearly different, as the client is not paying the fee.
Let roll some video…
Here’s the Quality Solicitors TV Ad:
And one from Jacoby & Meyers:
And here’s Joel Hyatt (move to the 13 second mark to bypass the cheesy furniture ad):
Quality Solicitors will be worth watching. We will even mention them (briefly) in our corporate-focused seminar this Thursday, April 7, 2011, “The Legal Pyramid: Which End is Up?” More here; direct registration here.
(Hat tip on this to Ron Friedmann).