Andrew Woolley on Practice Management

05 MAY 2010

Survival of the fittest?

Andrew WoolleyChange is inevitable. Ask Gordon Brown. Change is also a good thing more often than not - though we will often suggest the opposite.

Some people just won't look at the positives sometimes though. Take the Lawyers Defence Group for example. They are calling on the Government - whoever it is currently running the country that is, as all the politicians seem to be out knocking on doors, leaving the proper work to the auto-pilot I guess - to move to protect local "High Street" firms of lawyers. The reasoning behind this is that with the Legal Services Act allowing more organisations to offer legal services from 2011, smaller local firms will not be able to compete with the marketing clout and promotional power of the likes of Tesco and Co-op who may start selling legal services.The result? Consumers will desert the locals in droves.

Well, if the Government does get involved, which I doubt, it should be doing so to protect the rights of consumers to get the best possible legal advice from whatever source that is, rather than protecting firms unwilling to face change and the challenges that brings.

What clients need is expert advice they can rely on from experienced solicitors, in plain English. They should be able to access that in the most appropriate way, whether that is by calling into a local office, contacting a lawyer via email or getting advice over the phone from a lawyer in another part of the country. It should make no difference, but be driven by service. Exempting local law practices from these market forces would not ensure excellent service for clients.

Instead, these firms need to look at how their services are offered, with transparent pricing, accessible experienced lawyers, and with excellent service geared around the needs of the customer, whether that is working in the evening to accommodate them or exchanging documents by email.

Resistance to the changes smacks more of some firms knowing they are not up to the challenge but are mired in traditional methods of practice that have not moved with the times.

I say: "Bring on the competition!" It's good for consumers, promotes modern ways of working and spurs us on to even higher levels of service.

Andrew Woolley is the Senior Partner of Woolley & Co solicitors which he set up in 1996 as the world's first 'virtual' lawfirm with no traditional offices but a network of home based lawyers. Click here to follow Woolley & Co on Twitter

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