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04 October 2012

AA cracks legal market as English shake-up gathers pace

Britain's biggest motoring organisation will be the latest group to break into the legal services market, as reports yesterday said the AA has applied for an alternative business structure licence.

By Jonathan Ames

Lawyers by the van load

Lawyers by the van load

The announcement comes only a day after lifestyle business Saga revealed its licence application, and coincides with a move by one of America’s biggest cut-price legal services businesses into the UK market.  
The flurry of activity around England’s evolving post-Legal Services Act world will further strengthen existing views that the consumer end of the country’s legal market is on the verge of a revolution that could seriously impact on its mass ranks of high street law firms.

Exciting opportunities

According to London-based newspaper Legal Week, the AA – which already offers members some legal document services via an arrangement with the law firm Cogent Law – is considering expanding into property and employment advice.  A spokesman for the organisation told the newspaper: While we have no immediate plans to provide additional services, the licence would open up some exciting opportunities.’

Rocketing away

The AA announcement was followed today by reports that a major US legal brand is to push into the UK market. The Law Gazette newspaper reports on its web site today that Rocket Lawyer – which provides clients with on-line legal services as well as referrals to a panel firms in the States – will launch in the UK next month.
The company’s corporate vice president, Mark Edwards, told the Gazette that Rocket Lawyer was aiming at ‘unlocking the bottom end of the market that’s not currently being served’. The newspaper reports that in the US, the five-year-old, San Francisco-based Rocket Lawyer has some 3 million monthly visitors to its web site. 

Meanwhile, a senior US lawyer has slated England’s ABS revolution, describing as embedding an ‘inherent conflict of interest’ between law firms and clients.

The Law Gazette reports on a remarks from William Robinson, a former president of the American Bar Association, who was speaking at this week’s International Bar Association annual conference in Dublin.
According to the report, Mr Robinson told IBA delegates: ‘There is a strong sense that in the ABS approach there is an inherent conflict of interest. Investors invest to make money and, as we say, he or she who has the gold makes the golden rule. They don't being a higher quality of practice or integrity.'

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