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Legal services firms must establish strong identities

Developing a strong brand will be the key to success for new entrants and established law firms alike following the opening up of ?the legal market under the Legal Services Act, says digital agency ?Rufus Leonard.

23 January 2012

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“This is going to be a titanic battle for the hearts and minds of potential customers. On the one hand, there is the established order that holds all the cards in terms of expertise and heritage in legal services. On the other hand, there ?are established brands that have a proven track record in going beyond their own core business if the prize is big enough,” said Pearse McCabe, strategy and planning director at Rufus Leonard. “The Legal Services Act creates enormous challenges for traditional law firms, not least how to position themselves against the likes of The Co-operative and other well-known high street brands. While many law firms have a strong heritage and loyal clients and referrers, none can boast the brand cache of the large consumer brands. Traditional outfits also face immense competition from the more nimble online start-ups we see emerging,” said McCabe.

“However, these new market entrants have a branding challenge of their own. The law is seen as a highly technical area that requires specialist expertise, professional training and the utmost discretion. It remains to be seen how consumers will react to being able to buy a will with their weekly shop or weekend newspaper.

“The big-name brands have perfected the art of brand diversification into areas and categories beyond their perceived core business expertise. With the UK domestic legal services market estimated to be £25bn, such diversification is worth considering for any brand that can persuade consumers it can provide the necessary service at a competitive rate.

“Educating customers, brand positioning, and ongoing market understanding will be critical to success as the market goes through initial growing pains,” he said.on 3 January accepting applications from organisations wanting to be licensed as alternative business structures ?in what is widely regarded as a ?major milestone in the UK legal services industry. n

The Solicitors Regulation Authority began

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