This profession has been squeezed to bursting point through government and consumer pressure. The new legal brands promise the world for half the price of ‘conventional’ firms, but how realistic is that? Efficiency through IT and management processes may allow legal services to be provided more cheaply, but the biggest cost is still the cost of staff, and a paralegal, in many areas of practice, is no substitute for a qualified lawyer. Often a client does not know the difference and if they receive poor service they may assume they were dealing with a qualified lawyer.

The truth is that good legal services can only be provided by qualified lawyers. Even process-driven areas of practice need a good deal of qualified lawyer involvement and that comes at a cost. Just as many consumers would not eat processed food if they knew what went into it, the average consumer, if they knew what went into cheaper legal services, may want to opt for the more expensive ‘conventional’ firm services. Those firms which are financially stable and focus on quality and good service will survive and prosper.

Luke Tucker Harrison, Debenhams Ottaway, St Albans