Whatever you think of the QS brand, wishing it ill means hoping for fellow solicitors to struggle.
Nothing gets you lot going like a ‘QualitySolicitors is doomed’ story. We ran a fairly routine piece this week on one firm’s decision to leave the stable and within a couple of hours it was the best-read item of the week.
Some of you will have clicked, I imagine, to hear of developments in a rapidly evolving legal market.
But many – perhaps even most – will have been rubbing their hands together at the prospect of this loud-mouth wheel re-inventor being taken down a peg or two.
It’s not hard to see why elements of the profession will have taken great delight at a bump in the QS road.
Ever since the Legal Services Act, opportunistic new entrants have done whatever they can to undermine this country’s fine legal profession.
I’ve seen them at conferences, always with their tie loosened to show how forward-thinking they are, explaining how law firms are too reactionary, too stuffy, too set in their ways, too unreliable and not focused enough on consumers. By happy coincidence, it’s always their new business that will put this right.
I fully accept we at the Gazette do our fair share to push this agenda – we probably are a little quick to get excited about new alternative business structures (although anyone expecting us not to report the arrival of the AA or Saga, for instance, must be mad).
It must be galling for the traditional firms to be constantly belittled and told you’re not good enough – not to mention that these new players often come dangerously close to breaking the Solicitors Regulation Authority rule that requires solicitors to ‘maintain the trust in the provision of legal services’.
QualitySolicitors is the standard-bearer for the new vanguard. Brash and confident, as well as backed with significant amounts of private equity cash, it has undoubtedly achieved great success in convincing 200 or so firms to come on board.
But there is something about QS that winds people up. Its website proclaims that its ‘vision is to revolutionise the way law firms operate by putting clients at the heart of everything we do’ – as if that thought had never occurred to traditional firms. QS is fully resplendent in the emperor’s new clothes.
To many of its members, it offers the kind of branding, website and marketing upgrade beyond the means of smaller firms. Personally I would have misgivings about joining up, purely because I would worry about the potential for my business to suffer if another QS firm in a neighbouring town did something wrong. Brand recognition works both ways.
I’m sorry to disappoint the naysayers, but the fact that a couple of firms have chosen to leave is not proof that the empire is crumbling.
And if you are one of those wishing its downfall, you’re wrong to do so.
Whatever you think of the QS brand, wishing it ill means hoping for fellow solicitors to fail. The legal profession should be cherished because its members still regard what they do as a vocation, as a small part of a wider and historic tradition. Whatever the name above the door, and however irritating you may find QS, you’re all united by one common goal.
QS might be competition but there’s enough to go around – just look at how many people don’t have a will, for instance.
It undermines all that is good about the legal profession to indulge in schadenfreude. It’s ugly and unbecoming.
Whatever nonsense the new entrants might say to appear as if they’ve reinvented the wheel, leave them to it. Just get on with running your firm successfully and forget about the gloating.
John Hyde is a Gazette reporter