Hyatt Legal Services Comes to the UK?

The Guardian in the UK has an interesting story about Quality Solicitors, a fast-growing legal "chain" of law firms. As writer Jon Robins explains, Quality Solicitors is more of a "network," and: … is arguably the first-ever legal services "brand", complete with distinctive shopfronts for its 170 branches, supported by a national television campaign and its promise of a better deal for consumers ("free first consultation… no hidden costs … same-day response … direct lawyer contact…"). This is clearly more of a consumer play, and (at least for now) not a flanking maneuver on UK's version of BigLaw (aka the "Magic Circle" and those close on their heels). Corporate observers are following it closely, however, in advance of the coming reforms in the UK which will permit non-lawyer ownership of law firms. So will we see a version of Quality Solicitors on this side of the pond? Well, some of us feel a bit like we have heard this story before. Joel Hyatt founded Hyatt Legal Services back in 1977, and it was heralded as a game-changer. Hyatt Legal Services spawned some competitors (such as Jacoby & Meyers, if memory serves) and ultimately morphed into a legal plan that was acquired by MetLife. It was, to be fair, long before the Internet and thus not able to take advantage of the new, lost-cost ways to connect with potential clients. To my mind, the biggest challenge in the consumer legal space? Educating people as to why they need a lawyer in the first place, and then getting them to spend even 10 bucks of their own money on it ($20 if you are Joel Hyatt). Injury or accident claims are clearly different, as the client is not paying the fee. Here's the Quality Solicitors TV Ad: And here's Joel Hyatt years ago (move to the 13 second mark to bypass the cheesy furniture ad): Quality Solicitors will be worth watching. We will even mention them (briefly) in our corporate-focused seminar this Thursday, April 7, 2011, "The Legal Pyramid: Which End is Up?" More here; direct registration here. (Hat tip on this to Ron Friedmann).

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