A new high street franchise that aims to market member law firms to “lower” demographics in thousands of branches of independent food retailers working under brands like Costcutter, Nisa and Premier Stores went live yesterday.
Local Law  aims to sign up its first firm in the next week and have 50 firms in the network in its first year. It plans to spend an initial £800,000 on advertising in the coming 12 months.
Local Law said it has been a year in the making but has only now been able to confirm its approach in light of the Solicitors Regulation Authority outlining its plans for the referral fee ban.
Firms, which will retain their existing identities, will be able to buy exclusive territories, paying an annual subscription fee of £7,500 (discounted to £2,950 for those who join before 1 April), plus a monthly public relations and marketing fee of £4,950 – which the company argued was the equivalent of around six referral fees. In all this makes £80,280 a year including VAT.
For the marketing fee, Local Law said firms will receive local in-store marketing in at least five locations, marketing collateral, and local and national advertising and public relations. It said it is currently talking to M&C Saatchi about the advertising campaign, but no agreement has been signed. Independent retailers operating under the various brands are being offered £1,200 a year to take Local Law’s marketing materials. It is initially targeting Premier Stores, which has nearly 3,000 outlets.
After the first-year spend on advertising in print and on radio and TV, the plan is to increase this to £1.6m in year two and £2.4m in year three. This will promote the brand, but also the firms in their own localities.
It is not clear who is behind Local Law, but it should announce its board and participants next week, while marketing and public relations are being handled by Xpress Outsourcing Solutions.
Local Law’s marketing manager Scott Else, who is also on the management team at Xpress, said: “We really believe that law firms have to grasp new methods of working and combine these with some good old-fashioned, tried-and-tested ways of marketing and promoting their business.
“But they also have to adapt to the 21st century consumer. That`s why our branding is deliberately designed to reflect all of the attributes we feel law firms should display: friendly, convenient, approachable.”
Explaining the choice of retail partner – and contrasting it with QualitySolicitors’ tie-up with WH Smith – Mr Else said: “We feel that the ABC demographic is much more likely to have a relationship with the professionals they need and so we have chosen to partner with convenience store brands where the demographic is lower and better match, in particular, with personal injury.”
He argued that it is the PR and marketing scheme “that transforms Local Law from a simple ‘badged’ organisation into a scheme with some real depth”.