New law franchise targets 600 firms

first_imgAnother national law firm franchise formally launches today, designed to help firms compete against cut-price and ‘faceless’ providers which operate online and through call centres. Face2face solicitors, set up by solicitor Ray Gordon (pictured), is targeting smaller firms and startups, offering reduced overheads and a comprehensive support structure. Shrewsbury solicitor John Burrowes is the first franchisee. He will operate as a sole principal. All franchisee firms will use the name and branding of face2face solicitors and establish themselves as limited companies. They will be connected by a cloud computing system and use software from Solicitors Own Software, which provides case management and legal cashiering software and a complete compliance manual and handbook for outcomes-focused regulation. Firms will pay a £25,000 joining fee plus an annual fee of 8% of their income. They will sign up to a five-year franchise agreement, renewable for a further five years. Gordon said the model does not require firms to offer fixed fees; fees will vary across the country. Firms will receive referrals from other members in cases where they have particular expertise. Those seeking to join must attend a two-day assessment and strategic planning course, costing £2,000. Gordon said the franchise and firm will then decide mutually whether membership is appropriate. Gordon is targeting 600 member firms, a figure that he said equates to 2.5% of the number of sole practitioner firms and practices with up to five partners. He expects growth to be ‘steady’, with around 10-20 members by mid-2012. ‘We are building something for the long term, so we are not going to rush. We need to provide the necessary infrastructure to support the firms properly,’ said Gordon. As the franchise develops, Gordon said it will undertake marketing and advertising on behalf of firms, but this will be done locally. Funding to establish the franchise has come from Gordon in partnership with SOS, and Gordon said the venture will be self-financing. Introducing external investment is not part of the business model. However, if member firms eventually set up as alternative business structures, he said there may be a requirement to seek additional capital. Gordon said: ‘We are looking to put in place exceptional professional service for clients to help the legal profession fight back against cut-price providers of online and call centre-based “faceless” legal services. ‘We’d like to retain the principle of providing clients with a face-to-face service, giving advice over the table. I think this has been overlooked by many firms looking to take advantage of the internet and new opportunities to deliver legal services.’last_img

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