The coverage of what is commonly called ‘Tesco Law’ is frankly becoming hysterical (News Analysis, DW 1 July).
Tesco is not selling legal services. It has started selling some DIY legal products – which are bought and sold on like any other commodity. The Law Pack DIY legal kits have been around for years. Tesco has not really added anything to the offer.
The reforms in the legal industry mooted by Sir David Clementi have the potential to create an opportunity for the likes of Tesco, but the chain will look to exploit areas where the requirement is defined enough to be seen as a product.
You can therefore imagine that the supermarket chain is interested in selling wills, and in conveyancing. Even in law firms, most of this work is not done by solicitors.
Personal injury is one of the most dangerous territories where Tesco could go. Many would say that the chain has the brand strength and integrity to enter this largely discredited market, but has it got the courage?
Tesco understands the price/ volume equation better than the average law firm and there is clearly money to be made. Many pundits ignore the fact that the Tesco brand/ consumer relationship is such that Joe Public will trust the chain to handle simple legal services that most local law firms need to provide (but will say they do not want).
Tesco is unlikely to want criminal law or family work: messy, drawn out and emotionally likely to sit poorly with easy-sell services. Nobody is suggesting that Tesco will offer commercial legal services and contested divorces from the chain are as unlikely as management buy-outs.
‘Tesco Law’ is a hot topic, but it is just one possibility. The only certainty is that things will change. The real brand debate is for the legal industry at large – shortening the firm’s name, changing the logo font or becoming an LLP is not rebranding.
Law firms need to consider what they offer to the market and how they go about selling their products. Clementi wants this to happen. It will be interesting to see how the legal sector reacts and whether it learns from Tesco in terms of what to follow and where to differ.
Northampton NN3 8RQ