The private equity firm behind QualitySolicitors (QS) is eyeing up further acquisitions in the legal market and also thinks the network can quadruple in size, we can reveal.
Further, QS is putting the days of headline-grabbing advertisements in primetime television slots behind it.
Palamon Capital Partners first invested in QS in October 2011 and recently put “substantial” further investment into QS.
Palamon partner Daan Knottenbelt told Legal Futures that QS has developed in a “much broader” way than the original concept of national branding and marketing, and is looking to offer members firms a wide range of services.
To build these, Palamon is exploring various “acquisition opportunities”, such as technology providers, referral businesses and compliance tools. Buying law firms is unlikely, however.
The latest cash injection into QS was a “statement of confidence” and would be directed towards marketing and developing the online platform. Mr Knottenbelt said there was “no question” that Palamon would see the return envisaged when it bought into QS.
Though the QS network has shrunk somewhat to around 100 firms in 200 locations, he said it was now clear about the “offer and proposition” and ready to start growing again. QS’s original intention of reaching 400 firms in 800 locations remained possible over time, he said. “The more we learn, the more we see the market opportunity is there.”
The network’s growth will be measured this year, QS deputy chief executive Eddie Ross told this website, with 10-20 firms likely to be recruited.
QS’s marketing is now much more targeted across multiple channels with “steady promotion of the brand”, he said, and it will be upping the support for firms conducting their own local marketing. The ‘I love my lawyer’ strapline launched last autumn will still be used.
Mr Knottenbelt said big primetime adverts did not pay off sufficiently in terms of leads generated. Mr Ross suggested that “this is not how legal marketing works” and instead the focus is on reaching those who are already looking for legal services.
The marketing will have particular themes – today QS has launched a campaign around family work and announced a pilot of a free divorce mentoring service.
The Saturday coffee morning drop-in sessions will be trialed in offices in Birmingham, Sheffield and Norwich. Those going through or about to embark on a divorce will be able to consult the likes of financial advisers, life coaches and career specialists.
QS has also coined the term ‘Divoid’ to represent the “abyss made up of unknowns and new realities across four life areas: living arrangements, finances, future relationships and relationships with children”.
QS founder and president Craig Holt said: “It is often forgotten that QualitySolicitors is a relatively new business and we are still growing and developing. We are keen for the legal sector to understand in more detail what we are about and that innovation and new ways of highlighting the public value lawyers provide are not necessarily to be feared. We aim to engage more with the profession in future to further meet that objective.”