Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Support your Solicitor - Law Society advertising campaign

25/04/08

Law Society have announced a “Support Solicitors” advertising campaign.

It has been announced today that the Law Society are going to run a £500,000 advertising campaign to support the brand of solicitors. This will involve advertisements saying how good it is to go and see your solicitor rather than to go to the supermarket and see someone there or someone else perhaps.

I have to say that the whole campaign seems to be a complete waste of every solicitor’s practicing certificate money and any income the Law Society has. The reason for this is quite simple.

Firstly, there has been no indication yet of anyone merely moving into the legal market to compete with solicitors.

Secondly, even those players who have come into the market, such as the RAC, the AA, the Co-op and possibly Tesco’s, none have found a way of ensuring their costs are anything lower than solicitors firms on the high street, and hence the model for the provision of legal services remains unchanged in that the cost of having staff who are qualified and maintaining offices and professional indemnity will be no different for a company like Tesco’s than it will for a small high street practitioner.

It has been interesting on the crime solicitor front in recent years. A few years ago, Lord Carter did a review and it may be recalled that Lord Carter comes from a supermarket background. He looked at the way that law firms were run and concluded that the only way that crime defence services could be provided would be to have firms of large size competing against each other on the cost of a contract. Immediately firms started to merge, expand, take on new staff and build up their practice in anticipation for this wonderful new world, and within six months most of the firms who had expanded were making redundancies or going out of business as it just did not happen. In actual fact what is happening as I write this is that quite a lot of firms of a smaller size are competing more effectively for the cash than the larger firms because the cost of providing the services in the legal profession is usually the same whether you are a large firm or a small one. The same has happened in the conveyancing market in that there have been some very large volume conveyancing operations set up handling many hundreds of conveyances. As soon as the credit crunch has come into play these firms have needed to downsize fast as they have not been able to sustain their business, whereas quite a lot of the smaller providers are still seeing a regular flow of business off the high street and are not experiencing the same effects.

It is for these two reasons that I remain very dubious as to whether there is a threat to the solicitor profession in the long term as the status of solicitors, regardless of salary, working conditions and anything else anyone wishes to throw at them, remains quite high in society.

Besides, the advert that was printed on the front of the Law Society Gazette was done in such a way that I don’t think anyone would read it or let alone be the slightest bit interested in the message the Law Society are trying to get over.

Perhaps the Law Society may be better speaking to their editor of the Law Society Gazette and seeing whether he can produce some stories promoting the benefits and qualities of solicitors instead of week on week producing a Daily Express campaign almost to get rid of them and scare them into closing down or having a nervous breakdown. This may be a more appropriate use of their money as it probably wouldn’t cost them anything to either put some pressure on him or dismiss him from his post.

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment (www.ten-percent.co.uk). He regularly commentates and writes on the state of the legal profession, legal recruitment and legal job markets. For press comment or for free careers advice, please email him at cv@ten-percent.co.uk or call 0207 127 4343.

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