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High street firms ramp up fight against Tesco law

13 September 2010

QualitySolicitors, the umbrella organisation feder-ating about 200 high street firms, has set up a partnership with financial adviser group AWD Chase de Vere in a move to consolidate the position of its members ahead of the impending Tesco law era.

The QualitySolicitors brand (QS) was created last year to provide a recognisable high street lawyer brand in anticipation of competition by well-known retailers such as Tesco or the Co-op when the Legal Services Act comes fully into force on ‘ABS Day’ in October next year.

Member firms remain independent entities but share a common ethical platform promising high levels of service and client care through standards agreed – and regularly reviewed – by the founding members’ board.

Firms are, in the main, small and medium size high street practices traditionally offering private client and business services to the local community. The partnership with financial advisers AWD Chase de Vere appears a natural fit for such firms in the battle to retain their share of the private client market.

Some firms that have experimented with informal relationships with IFAs before have expressed doubts in the past over the long term advantages of working with preferred partners but the advent of ABSs could make them rethink the way they approach the market.

John Baden-Daintree, partner at QualitySolicitors Burroughs Day and founding member of the network, said the partnership with Chase was a positive move between two organisations that shared the same belief in the provision of service and the same values in relation to independent advice.

The arrangement will allow both QS and Chase to offer combined services to a wide client base in England but both will remain free to refer clients to alternative service providers.

“Different IFAs have different expertise,” Baden-Daintree continued, who clarified that there was no obligation to refer clients to a Chase IFA and vice versa.

“I like the fact that you can refer a client in confidence because it’s in their interest but that we remain able to refer them to a different IFA if appropriate,” he said.

According to the fatal accident specialist, the QS brand is not so much about giving law firms a competitive advantage as about giving members of the public an advantage by offering minimum guaranties in respect of client service. The partnership with Chase, he said, would further demonstrate QS’s commitment to quality of service.

“The difficulty for the public in choosing a solicitor is the absence of any indicator to find out how good a law firm is,” he said. “The essence of the QS brand is that we have to hit very high customer service and feedback criteria.”

Asked whether the rapprochement with Chase was only a step to closer amalga-mation, Baden-Daintree said the QS brand was likely to remain a network of independent firms.

“The QS brand allows us to get the quality message out more effectively than on our own but I cherish our independence,” he said, “and the QS brand provides a way of continuing in the same way, just more effectively.”

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