Manchester firm Pannone is to target big businesses with a white label legal services offering, it announced today.
From next week it is pulling all of its white label services into a standalone and separately branded division – Affinity Solutions – to partner with organisations with a large customer base from various industries, including retail, financial services, utilities and insurance.
The division has already signed a deal with an unnamed “major multiple” and Pannone says it is in talks “with a number of others”.
The services provided by the 85-strong team include employment advice, consumer disputes, fast-track accidents and injury claims, and conveyancing and remortgaging.
Andrew Morton, the founder of Pannone’s travel litigation team, is heading Affinity. He told Legal Futures that while the firm has already been providing white label services, from 1 May the offering will for the first time have a dedicated management structure and budget, with “much more active” marketing.
He predicted that alternative business structures (ABSs) present “great opportunities for smart law firms”. He said Affinity’s work could come with new entrants to the market that just want to white label, those at the other end which set up legal businesses but need help with “hard cases and conflict cases that they don’t want to do”, and those who are somewhere between the two.
Mr Morton said ABSs will enable firms like Pannone to “come together” with these companies in a way that “dispenses with the rather artificial situation where money is flying off in different directions” – such as through referral fees and insurance commissions – and instead allow them to split profits equitably.
He added that the real challenge for law firms is the service they provide – people complain about not having their phone calls returned, not points of law. “A number of these new entrants to the marketplace know how to provide excellent service to their existing customers while arguably many in the legal sector do not. So an organisation that places as much emphasis on good service as well as providing excellent legal advice has to be of benefit to the consumer.
“Equally, these organisations are coming into a fragmented market and while there will be firms which may lose out, the smarter ones will to work with them to ensure excellent legal services at competitive prices.”
Pannone is proving one of the most forward-thinking practices, with its Connect2Law service now numbering more than 2,000 law firms as members.