National law firm network QualitySolicitors (QS) has signed a “game changing” deal with WHSmith to place “Legal Access Points” (LAPs) in hundreds of the high street retailer’s stores following a successful pilot.
All QS firms will also soon start opening on Saturdays and introduce a wide range of fixed-fee services.
From the LAP – which will be run by the local QS firm – iPad apps will allow staff to book appointments, provide conveyancing quotes, sell wills packages and fixed-fee advice sessions, and sign up people to the new QS loyalty card scheme, called Legal Privilege.
One aim of the concessions is to sign up people who do not presently have a legal issue to the scheme. QS chief executive Craig Holt said the week-long pilots in Bristol and Chester saw nearly 1,000 people take a card.
“If that was replicated across 200 stores, that would be 100,000 people per week or five million per year,” he told Legal Futures. “They will receive details of periodic offers and promotions and there is thereafter, of course, a very good chance they will choose a QS firm for their next legal issue. That will represent a very significant element of our strategy towards market dominance.”
LAPs will be launched this summer in around 150 stores and QS hopes to be in 500 within 12 months. It will be supported by in-store advertising and an enhanced television advertising campaign. The partnership will also see QS seek to place free legal guides and advertising in all of WHSmith’s airport, service station and train station stores.
Mr Holt described the exclusive deal as a “game changer, providing both the key elements required for market dominance – accessibility and visibility”.
He said: “It provides everything the Legal Services Act was hoped to provide without the perceived negatives – accessible, consumer-friendly legal services but with the actual legal work being done by expert, leading local law firms and not unqualified staff in a remote call centre.
“WHSmith has over 1,000 stores and over 70% of the population visit them each year. The levels of awareness and recognition this will create for the QualitySolicitors brand is incomparable and will fast forward us to ‘household name’ status years ahead of target. It will enable us to dominate the UK private client/SME market with the first port of call for a majority of people needing legal services being to visit QualitySolicitors in their local WHSmith.”
WHSmith’s commercial development director, Ian Sanders, said: “We’re delighted to be able to offer our customers easy access to legal services through QualitySolicitors and look forward to a long and successful partnership.”
Mr Holt said fixed-fee services and Saturday opening “is what all our research tells us the market wants”.
John Baden-Daintree, managing partner of QualitySolicitors Burroughs Day in Bristol, said the Bristol pilot showed “the extent to which people of all demographics simply don’t know where to go for legal services and that they are anxious about visiting law firms’ offices”.
Mr Holt added that the pilots showed that “when presented with an easy and non-intimidating option, people are keen to make a will” – at least 15 appointments were made every day.
“We also learned that people don’t have a clue about their local firms, even when they’ve used them. We asked people who came in the store where they would go if they needed a lawyer and apart from a few who said ‘my bank’, no one had any clue.”
- See blog: Feel the Quality