Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Has the Co-operative gone completely mad?

Has the Co-operative gone completely mad?
In recent times it has been reported that the Co-operative has lost over £3.5 million via its legal division, but at the same time it plans to introduce apprentice-style online legal career training to new employees.
The Co-operative has been offering legal services for some time. Salaries appear to be higher than on the high street and the Co-op has never seemed particularly bothered about recruiting staff with particular qualifications – ie solicitors - and are more concerned with experience.
At the same time they have an LSC family contract and took on a whole tranche of family lawyers including a high profile lawyer from TV Edwards.
It must be asked though – which executive at the Co-op thought there was money to be made in legal services like LSC funded family law work? How does the Co-op plan to make legal services a sustainable service like their funeral arm? Did they really look into the market in any depth before taking the plunge?
One would have thought that it doesn’t take much research to work out that a high profile family lawyer from TV Edwards earning say £65,000 is going to need to do about £190,000 worth of work in a year (or add value to the business for the same amount) to justify their existence. How on earth would this happen when most LSC funded family law work is paid at a rate that would require a solicitor to bill 100 hours a week to get anywhere near to this?
Yes, but the probate is where the money is. This is almost certainly true, but how many people feel comfortable talking about probate to a funeral director or a call centre operative recommended by a funeral director? How many prefer to speak to the local solicitor who will almost certainly be cheaper, and also be considered by the client to be more accessible and available than a legal adviser speaking to them via the telephone from Cardiff?
Have the Cooperative gone completely mad? Quite possibly. After all they did buy up rather a lot of toxic debt from a building society lending to anyone and everyone around that well-known boom town of Stoke-on-Trent…..
Does any of this benefit solicitors firms in competition with organisations like the Co-operative? Who knows…..
Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and regularly writes the Legal Recruitment blog, an award-winning selection of articles and features on legal recruitment and the legal profession. You can contact Jonathan at or visit one of our websites.

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