Revenue and profits at Co-operative Legal Services fell as a result of coronavirus but case volumes grew during last year, its annual results have shown.
Revenue in 2020 was down £2m to £37m, with profits dropping by a third to £4m.
Today’s announcement said that ongoing investment in digital technology meant the legal services business – one of the first three alternative business structures licensed back in 2012 – was able to weather the transition to remote working caused by the pandemic.
“Having developed digital legal advice technologies for estate planning, which makes sorting out wills easier and more effective, we developed a suite of digital legal advice services in 2020 that covers probate, personal injury, employment and family law.
“These tools put us in a good position to build new partnerships and reach more customers. In 2020 we partnered with over ten new organisations and we saw case volumes rise by 9%.”
The business experienced an early increase in will-writing work at the start of the pandemic, and then a 250% jump in divorce-related enquiries. The number of probate cases also grew.
But the announcement said: “External factors impacted our overall performance. Cancelled house viewings, delayed house sales, reduced interest rates and delays in processing paperwork all impacted our revenue in 2020.”
Last year the group brought its funeralcare, insurance and legal services businesses into a single ‘Life Services’ function, and as Covid death rates began to soar, it introduced a bereavement notification and advice service to help people deal with a late loved one’s affairs.
It helps bereaved families inform financial institutions, stop junk mail and close social media accounts.
Overall, the Co-op group saw revenue rise from £10.9bn to £11.5bn, with profit before tax (excluding a change in accounting policy for funeral plans) of £92m, up from £67m.