Solicitors get US style ad network

Solicitors' firms will soon have access to a subscription-based TV and radio advertising service called the Legal Line.

The service, to be launched in October, is based on commercials showing the public how to obtain advice from local solicitors. Response to the adverts is via a Legal Line 0990 number which can be accessed from anywhere in the UK for a standard rate BT phone charge.

Service providers Multi Media Marketing Services will route calls via the BT network to a computerised telephone switching system which can handle 120 simultaneous calls and can identify the area code from which the call originated.

Intelligent voice activated technology identifies the type of service required and classifies the call to the file of participating solicitors in the area from which the call came.

Call information is then downloaded by the solicitor's clerk, using a security code number and passed on to the relevant practitioners.

Gerry Kavanagh, director of Multi Media Marketing Services says: "This advertising and marketing concept for solicitors is already well established in the US, where solicitors have been allowed to advertise for some time. In the UK restrictions on solicitors being able to advertise have only recently been lifted."

Legal Line is currently being targeted at firms of solicitors which operate a general local practice rather than corporate lawyers who are not seeking to handle public work.

Kavanagh also predicts that users of the the Legal Line will mainly be legal aid users.

He says: "In response to this prediction we have decided to use a combination of television and radio as it is felt that this would best reach this target, enabling us to build both coverage and awareness quickly and cost-effectively."

The service will be launched in the London region for the first year, covering an estimated audience of 12.5 million, and it is hoped that it will expand into other TV areas such as Granada, Central, Yorkshire and Meridian.

Ceri Preece, partner at Cardiff firm Hugh James Jones & Jenkins, says: "We would welcome initiatives such as the Legal Line which helps to heighten public awareness regarding their legal rights and how they may effectively pursue claims."

He adds: "It remains to be seen, whether this US-style concept will be cost-effective for participating firms as the cost of participation is high."