Law firm marketing alliance QualitySolicitors has launched a national high street branch network in a bid to become the first ‘household name’ legal brand, the Gazette can exclusively reveal.

Today sees the opening of the first 15 QualitySolicitors branches across the UK, in a strategy described as a ‘game changer’ by one industry commentator.

Well-established practices such as Bristol firm Burroughs Day, Lockings in Hull and Howlett Clarke in Brighton are among 13 firms to have totally rebranded. They now trade under the QualitySolicitors name, branding and logo. Two firms, Morrish in Bradford and Stephensons in Wigan, have rebranded one and two of their branch offices respectively.

All aspects of these firms’ branding in participating offices, from external signage to websites and stationery, will share the common styling.

A further 100 firms are partially rebranding by using the term ‘a QualitySolicitors firm’ after their name.

QualitySolicitors said it plans to have a branch in every town and city in England and Wales by October 2011. The group said it also aims to transform the way people obtain legal services, by encouraging member firms to open branches in shopping ­centres and provide extended opening hours.

The first purpose-built QualitySolicitors retail store is due to open in south London’s Lewisham Shopping Centre this summer. It will be run by Freeman Harris with involvement from Stephensons.

QualitySolicitors chief executive Craig Holt said: ‘The threat posed by "Tesco law" [when the Legal Services Act comes fully into force in October 2011] is so grave because of the lack of recognised, customer service-focused brand names in the legal market.

‘Visibility on the high street, along with a high-profile marketing campaign including on primetime television, will transform QualitySolicitors into the first household name legal brand.’ Holt added that the alliance aims to ‘dominate the legal market before the "Tesco law" entrants can even get off the ground’.

Professor Stephen Mayson, an expert on legal services reform, said: ‘QualitySolicitors is emerging as possibly the strongest "home-grown" response from within the profession to the need for a brand presence in the retail legal services market.

‘This is likely to be a game-changing strategy and... a robust competitor for the existing and expected high street brands delivering legal services. [It may also leave] traditional law firms wondering where their business has gone.’