Departure of leading regional firm casts doubt over value of national network
Essex firm Fisher Jones Greenwood is to leave QualitySolicitors just 18 months after joining, it emerged yesterday, casting doubts over the potential of marketing collectives as a suitable response to the challenges set by new entrants.
Managing partner Paula Fowler said the 19-partner firm had "learnt a great deal" from its QS membership but it now wanted to "focus on developing our own regional brand in Essex and London rather than remain as part of a national brand."
Fowler said there was "no single right way" to meet the challenges in the legal services market and that "we are all feeling our way".
Explaining the reason for the withdrawal, she said feedback from clients and professional connections has given the firm "confidence that the Fisher Jones Greenwood brand is sufficiently strong in our target markets to go it alone."
QualitySolicitors founder Craig Holt sold the business to Palamon in October 2011, the first private equity investment in the legal services sector following the entry into force of the Legal Services Act.
Just over a year later the franchise network announced it was teaming up with US legal platform LegalZoom to launch a complete web-to-store offering.
To date there has been no further move on the partnership or date set for the launch of LegalZoom in the UK.
Senior partner Tony Fisher said being part of "the first credible national network of independent law firms" provided the firm with a real boost.
"All of our staff and partners are now fully focused on continuing the growth of Fisher Jones Greenwood as a regional law firm delivering a full range of legal services to both private and business clients."
The firm still has a significant legal aid department, with contracts in family, crime, housing, community care, asylum claims, and public law.