Practice areas have widely differing views on level of threat represented by 'Tesco Law', poll finds


Press Release - September 2010

Different practice areas have a very different view on the level of threat represented by the impending Legal Services Act reforms and the formation of Alternative Business Structures, according to a poll of solicitors by UK-based find-a-solicitor service, Caven.*

More than half (53%) of conveyancing firms said that ‘Tesco Law’ represented a high threat to their practice area, with 40% saying it represents a medium threat. Only 7% said the level of threat was negligible.

In stark contrast, not one commercial practice saw the level of threat as high, although 64% of commercial solicitors felt Tesco law represented a medium threat. 36% of respondents practising commercial law considered the threat level to be negligible.

Meanwhile, a significant 56% of family lawyers felt the arrival of ABSs represented a negligible threat, with 22% deeming it a high level of threat and the same percentage a medium threat. 

And who do the three practice areas — conveyancing, family and commercial — think the new legislation will benefit most? 67% of family law practitioners say the changes will most benefit the consumer, with the rest saying it will benefit neither solicitors nor consumers.

More than half (53%) of conveyancers also felt Tesco Law would benefit consumers most, although 7% said that it would be most beneficial to conveyancing firms. 13% of conveyancers said the changes would benefit both consumers and solicitors, while 27% said they would benefit neither.

The majority (57%) of commercial lawyers also believe the new legislation will most benefit consumers, although not one felt it would only benefit them. 7% responded that it would benefit both solicitors and consumers, while 36% said it would benefit neither.

Dan Watkins, director, find-a-solicitor service, Caven, comments: “The survey results highlight how views on the impact of Tesco Law on the legal sector differ widely from practice area to practice area.  Conveyancers seem to be the most apprehensive, with 93% saying the arrival of ABSs represents a high or medium threat. They clearly feel that the more process-driven nature of conveyancing will be especially vulnerable to new entrants into the market.
“Likewise, the 44% of family lawyers who see the new legislation as representing a medium or high threat level may be concerned about the increased competition they will face from ABSs for uncontested  divorce work, which can again be very process-driven and therefore easier to replicate.

“It is perhaps not surprising, given the varied and often very complex nature of their work, that commercial lawyers do not see the new legislation as representing a high threat level; many business clients want a face-to-face relationship with their lawyer. However, with nearly two thirds saying it represents a medium threat there are clearly still concerns within commercial practices, especially those dealing with the more commoditized part of the market, such as employment contracts and T&Cs for small businesses.

“If there is one fairly consistent view held by respondents across the three sectors polled, it is that the changes will benefit consumers more than they will practices.

“In light of this, Caven plans to partner with the new ABSs, so that the consumer enquiries they generate and can’t service in-house are passed into the Caven network of quality-assured law firms, ensuring the client gets a recommendation to a local, specialist solicitor.”

*The poll of 317 UK-based solicitors was carried out in September 2010.

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