The UK is the world’s second most valuable legal services market, with a 6.5% global share.
Deregulation has opened up the market to disruptive new business models with innovative legal franchises very much in the vanguard.
Facts & figures
- Deregulation means you needn’t be a trained lawyer to run a legal franchise; entrepreneurial flair and/or experience in advisory roles are typically sought
- UK legal services market was worth £38.53bn in 2017 – up 37% from 2013, according to the UK Legal Services Market Report 2018
- Four consumer law areas – conveyancing, family law, personal injury and wills
andprobate – have experienced volume growth
The Legal Services Act 2007 opened the legal services market in England and Wales up to ownership by non-lawyers and innovation in service delivery. By 2018 traditional partnerships had just a 17% – and shrinking – market share.
And franchises have been at the forefront of innovation satisfying client demands for more flexible services and pricing.
The internet has been particularly disruptive. The Legal Services Global Report by BRC found that more than half of in-house legal departments would consider buying legal services from providers that deliver legal documents or services online.
There’s been some consolidation, with many small firms acquired by large operators.
The Legal Services Global Report predicts that legal complexities created by Brexit both “at a state and company level” will boost the sector.
You’ll also need only modest office space and won’t need to invest in stock or expensive equipment. This makes legal franchises relatively low investment, low overhead opportunities with comparatively high margins.
And yes, lawyers command high salaries – around £65,000 on average – but legal services come at a premium too.
Is a legal franchise for me?
The attributes you need to pass the screening process partly depend on the legal services provided. Most franchises are not looking for experienced solicitors to deliver legal advice, but for entrepreneurial individuals to run the business.
They often welcome people from a wide range of backgrounds. However, experience in senior management or running businesses will likely strengthen your candidacy.
It’s a lucrative sector, but it’s not just about making money. Honesty and integrity are paramount and you must navigate a complex environment with much at stake.
You’re providing expensive services that can nevertheless save customers time and money overall and provide invaluable peace of mind – making legal franchises rewarding in non-financial ways too.
Law is a relationship-building business and it helps if you enjoy and excel at networking – often a major source of leads!
The structure of legal franchises
It’s not easy gaining a foothold in a world where prestige and referrals are so important in attracting custom.
Following a proven, cost-efficient formula under an established, respected brand – providing you choose your franchise carefully – you can offer clients both reassurance and competitive prices in a market notorious for eye-watering rates.
Franchises that deliver documents or services online have driven prices down further still.
Although brand recognition, networking, and referrals remain big lead sources, the internet is now a major driver and legal franchises have the financial muscle to invest in their online presence.
One franchise, for instance, offers a messaging platform through which franchisees share ideas and questions.
In a complex, highly regulated environment it’s also a godsend if head office manages compliance, marketing
These questions should be useful in assessing the merits of a particular legal services franchise:
- Will the franchisor
allowyou to speak to existing franchisees?
- Does the company uphold high ethical standards?
- Does it comply with its regulatory obligations? Is it certified with relevant bodies and does it arrange professional indemnity and other insurance?
- What training and ongoing support will they provide? This might cover marketing, business development, lead generation, networking skills and problem-solving.
What kind of legal franchises are out there?
Wills and probate franchises provide advice and legal documents for wills, lasting powers of attorney, trusts, probate and estate administration.
The market is huge: 35 million people lack an up-to-date will and with one in three elderly people likely to need some form of long-term care, an even greater number need lasting powers of attorney.
Previous experience in an advisory role might be a prerequisite. You’ll be expected to provide a sympathetic, empathetic approach to generating sales and dispensing advice.
While the sector is unregulated, you might ask the franchisor if they follow the Will Writers, Trading Standards Institute-approved code of practice, are members of the Institute of Professional Will Writers and provide run-off PI insurance.
Building insurance claims management franchises help residential and commercial property owners save time and achieve a fair insurance settlement. Franchisees liaise with insurers to get the property promptly restored to its previous condition.
Media coverage of mishandled insurance claims has been a fillip to the sector, while adverse weather conditions generally boost demand.
The legal franchise industry is vast, and the skills and attributes required of you depend on the franchise itself.
Before jumping head first into this industry, ensure that you know what will suit you and whether you can see yourself dedicating yourself to a legal franchise.