National firm Slater and Gordon – which has long coveted the position of the UK’s best-known legal brand – has signed an exclusive fee-sharing deal with an app developer.
Subscribers to LegalDefence pay between £19 and £24 a month and receive 25% off Slater and Gordon legal fees. In return, the firm receives a third of membership fees.
Subscribers get access to UK-based ‘qualified legal advisers’ via smartphone 24 hours a day, and to a chatbot named ‘Gordon’ which can answer common legal questions. Additional features include a library of self-help legal documents and the ability for a member to send a photograph of intended prosecution to their lawyer in the event of a driving offence.
According to LegalShield, the US company behind the app, members frequently seek help with will-writing, conveyancing and employment law, but no areas of the law are excluded.
LegalShield says it wants to widen access to legal support, claiming that a third of UK workers who experienced a ‘legal situation’ in the past two years did not seek professional help.
LegalShield was established 47 years ago after its founder had a car accident and struggled to pay his legal costs. The company – then called the Sportsman’s Motor Club – was set up to reimburse members for legal fees relating to road accidents. Some 1.7 million people in the US now use its app. It reached the UK in pilot form late last year. UK managing director Mike Roberts said it has ‘over 500’ UK subscribers so far.
He added: ‘It will take a while before the company really becomes financially viable. It will be slow growth, not a boom.’ He added that the company’s greatest challenge is ‘making people aware that the law is for everyone’.