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Thursday, 21 November 2013

Cuts at the Co-Op - is big as beautiful as we are told??

It has not been the best of weeks for the Co-Op.

Every day we have seen more damning news about Paul Flowers, the former chairman of the bank and Methodist Minister. I don’t propose to dwell on that matter which is getting plenty of coverage elsewhere.

On the back of all this comes the news, this week, that Co-Operative Legal Services are to cut 60 jobs their Personal injury division. In fact it is a 50% reduction is size. According to the report in the Law Society’s Gazette the cuts are the result of losing a ‘large source of personal injury work’ with ‘not enough new claims coming in’.

The Legal Services Act 2007 heralded the birth of ABSs. For the first time, legal services could be provided by non-lawyer organizations. Interestingly we all referred to TescoLaw even though that particular retailer has yet to show any significant interest. But the Co-Op has gone for it in a big way. They were among the first to be granted an ABS licence by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority.

The first thing that this demonstrates is that no organization is immune from the commercial pressures affecting anybody who deals with personal injury work. We have seen a number of high profile firms either closed the door or decide to wind down their businesses. Companies like are busily buying up work from those who no longer see the work as viable following the dramatic changes that have been a big feature of this blog –

So to that extent, we are all in it together.

But it also raises a question over the mantra that ‘big is beautiful’. We have been told time and time again that it is only big and powerful entitles that will survive the recent changes. It is being predicted that in ten years time there will only be 5 or 6 companies dealing with personal injury. But you begin to wonder..

We have recently seen the demise of some big firms including Halliwells and Cobbett’s. Now we see the most enthusiastic retailer in the sector cutting back by 50%.

In truth the consumers don’t seem to want to be represented by a faceless corporation. They want a lawyer they know and can trust.

I have no doubt that the Co-Op will come through all this and remain big players in the legal market. But hose who talk of the demise of the private law firm are being premature. There will still be a demand for those who offer a high quality and personal service to their clients.


  1. Don't take this the wrong way Steve, meant as a compliment, but you, like me, have probably been around long enough to be able to say "seen it all before". Commoditising law, even with the benefits of technology, and knocking it out cheap as chips, simply doesn't work. Been tried before. people call lawyers arrogant and some are, but the business gurus who think law is all about lawyers being inefficient and that's what needs ti change, are wrong.