Soon, UK bookstore will offer divorce advice to customersApril 8th, 2011 - 2:27 pm ICT by ANI
London, April 08 (ANI): For generations, WHSmith has been a place to pick up book tokens, magazines and greetings cards, but soon it may sort out a divorce or personal injury claim.
The store is to install “legal access points”, where lawyers will be on hand for consultations.
The move comes after the British Government announced a shake-up that will allow shops, supermarkets and banks to offer legal services.
There are suggestions that Tesco and the AA could follow the WHSmith lead.
But critics claim the standard of advice and personal service could be compromised, while small independent solicitors fear it could put them out of business.
The move will also fuel concerns about a litigation culture. Ambulance-chasing lawyers have been blamed for a huge rise in personal injury lawsuits, while others have used the Human Rights Act and European courts to their advantage.
WHSmith has signed a partnership with QualitySolicitors, a consortium of more than 150 local firms from across the country.
From the summer, the firms will place trainee solicitors, paralegals and other trained staff in hundreds of outlets.
They will mainly offer advice on a range of consumer legal matters, including providing conveyancing quotes and selling will-writing packages, but will also be able to arrange divorce consultations.
“This move represents the future of legal services,” the Daily Mail quoted QualitySolicitors chief executive Craig Holt, as saying.
“It provides everything the Legal Services Act hoped to provide without the perceived negatives - accessible, consumer-friendly services but with the legal work being done by expert, leading local law firms and not unqualified staff in a remote call-centre,” added Holt.
John Baden-Daintree, managing partner of Burroughs Day, one of the participating legal firms, said the move was necessary because “a short trial demonstrated to us the extent to which people of all demographics simply don’t know where to go for legal services, and showed they are anxious about visiting law firms’ offices”. (ANI)
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