Last week’s SRA warning of the ‘group contagion’ threat looks even more timely.

‘When sorrows come, they come not single spies. But in battalions.’ And so it seems for Co-operative Legal Services, poster child for the ABS ‘movement’, if it can be so called.

It is a year since the Co-op launched its family law service, amid suggestions that a paradigm shift was taking place in legal services that could see the Co-op employ one in 50 of all practising solicitors.

CLS may yet succeed in its ambitions, but its ascent appears steeper now. Back then you’d have got long odds on David Cameron revelling in Labour’s discomfiture over its association with the Co-op, following the bank debacle and allegations about drugs. Twenty-four hours later and there was another body blow as 60 CLS PI jobs went.

So what have we learned? Perhaps only that this is a cautionary tale for those who believe that grafting legal services on to a high-profile and respected consumer brand is a guaranteed win, especially when that brand incorporates heterogeneous businesses.

Back in July, the group’s CEO admitted the bank’s woes had contaminated the Co-op brand. Last week’s SRA warning of the ‘group contagion’ threat to complex structures looks even more timely now.