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The Co-operative has become the first consumer brand to be granted an ABS licence in what is either the legal industry’s second big bang, or first barbarians at the gate moment. Or possibly both.
Along with the Co-op, two high street practices have been licensed by the SRA: John Welch and Stammers and Lawbridge Solicitors (see story).
Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly popped into Co-op’s legal services headquarters in Bristol to mark the occasion, saying: “ABSs introduce more competition in the market place, delivering competitive pricing, higher standards of product and more choice for the consumer.”
The SRA’s chief executive Antony Townsend also took the opportunity to express his delight at the milestone and to once again hit back at those who criticised the SRA for taking forever and a day to process law firms’ applications.
“We make no apology for ensuring that the systems we have in place are thorough and in some cases, time-consuming,” he said.
Despite the enormous significance of it all, you could be forgiven for being a little under-whelmed. With businesses like LawVest waiting in the wings, change will be more creeping than immediate, and a lot will depend on delivery.
But don’t take our word for it. Next time you pop into your local Co-op, don’t forget to ask which aisle the lawyers are on and have a look for yourself.