Co-op to offer legal services - Will the high street kill the small law firm?
Banking. Nice pizzas. Funerals. Is there anything the Co-operative can't do? Well, while they haven't mastered time-travel, they have today, announced that they are the first high street store that will be offering legal services to its customers, according to the Ministry of Justice.
This move enables non-lawyers to invest in and own legal businesses and could well "transform the way legal services are delivered", experts have said. If Co-op are on it, then Tesco won't be far away, prompting the notion that this could see off the small legal firms forever.
Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly said: "This is a huge milestone for UK legal services and the future of alternative business structures. ABSs (alternative business structures scheme) introduce more competition in the market place, delivering competitive pricing, higher standards of product and more choice for the consumer.
"Our UK legal services are unrivalled around the world and these changes will allow them to reach new heights, as solicitors' firms develop new markets, seek external investment and join up with other businesses to offer different products to consumers and provide opportunities for growth."
Eddie Ryan, managing director of Co-operative Legal Services, added it was an "historic occasion... for all customers needing access to legal services in the UK. We believe that the presence of The Co-operative's trusted brand and values, together with a combination of first class products and services, will provide customers with greater accessibility to expert legal advice and better value for money."
"We are committed to playing a leading role in this new era by offering straightforward value-for-money expert legal services, backed by an ethos of social responsibility and a level of protection that can be provided by a diverse, multibillion-pound organisation."