The growth of Co-operative Legal Services (CLS) continued apace in the first half of 2023, with revenue up 41% to £31m and a 125% increase in underlying profits to £9m.
CLS – which was the second alternative business structure licensed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority back in 2012 – describes itself as the UK’s largest regulated provider of wills, estate planning and probate services.
It hired 144 staff in the six months, of whom 15% were internal promotions, and said a similar number would join in the second half of the year. Staff numbers have reached 700, around 50 more overall than last year.
CLS had 22% more probate cases – 4,738 in total – than in the same period in 2022, while estate planning case openings increased by 30% to 12,138. The number of referrals from its digital channels was up 51% to 10,018.
We reported in April that, in 2022, CLS recorded a 19% increase in revenue to £46m and 60% rise in profit to £8m as it became the first law firm to strike a deal to offer services through Amazon.
Speaking to Legal Futures last year, managing director Caoilionn Hurley said the aim was to become a £100m operation by 2027, particularly through accelerating growth through the business-to-business partnerships it was forming.
CLS said yesterday that, during the first half of 2023, it struck new partnerships with the Co-operative Bank and Central Co-op – neither of which are owned by the Co-operative Group. At the same time, principle six of the co-operative movement is ‘co-operation among co-operatives’.
Investment in technology has included the introduction of electronic ID checking and robotic process automation.
Ms Hurley said: “The first six months of 2023 have been an incredibly strong period for Co-op Legal Services. Despite challenging external factors, our business has continued to show significant growth, which is apparent in the increase in both revenue and profits…
“Our strategy of increased digitalisation and accessibility, growing and maintaining strong partnerships, and the delivery of unique customer journeys has continued to support our growth this year leading to high levels of client satisfaction.”
Nearly two-thirds of CLS staff are female, 7% members of the LGBTQ+ community and 20% have a disability or long-term health condition.
The Co-operative Group has a whole reported a £200m fall in revenue to £5.4bn for the first half of 2023, due to the sale of its garage forecourt business last year, underlying operating profit of £43m – compared to a £1m loss last year.