Co-operative Legal Services may offer firms a franchise arrangement for some legal services, its sales and marketing director suggested in an interview with the Gazette today.

Jonathan Gulliford said that a franchise or licensing model, whereby firms could operate under the Co-op brand, was one of a ‘whole spectrum of opportunities’ that the organisation is currently considering in the light of the new opportunities available under the Legal Services Act reforms.

He said that the Co-op was likely to keep some services in-house where it already has the skill set and is already conducting the work, for example in wills, probate and personal injury work.

However, Gulliford added that there may be scope to offer firms a franchise in ‘any other area of consumer law where the Co-op does not have the skills set in-house’, noting that conveyancing was an ‘interesting area’.

Gulliford said he was ‘very excited’ by the opportunities presented by alternative business structures, adding that ‘nothing is off the cards’. The group is currently assessing all the options available.

The Co-op will be seeking a licence to become an ABS from next October, with the whole Co-operative group regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Gulliford added that the economic climate appeared to have damped the appetite of some entities that may have been considering entering the legal services market.