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Law Society of Scotland
2 minutes reading time (402 words)

Heard of Tesco Law? What about WH Smith Law?

Along with your biro, Harry Potter boxed set and James Blunt CD, you can get a will or a divorce at the counter -  and pay by swiping your credit card.

In a very smart move, Quality Solicitors (full Sunday name Quality Solicitors Burroughs Day) in England have become in effect stallholders at the stationery and bookselling giant, offering a range of legal services to customers/clients in the convenience of their retail visit to the high street. WH Smith have more than 1,000 stores – indeed, quite a few in Scotland, and although that particular firm cannot advise or represent Scottish people – the law is different, the courts won’t recognise the non-Scottish qualification -  I don’t doubt we will see this soon up here. Hey – we might even pitch for he business, there being no better-known high street solicitor name in Scotland! I would look great in the blue pinny with a name badge: Austin – Here to Help.

The idea was trialed in Bristol, and apparently the results demonstrated that ordinary people still don’t necessarily have a complete idea of where conveniently to access legal services. That surprised me, as it seems kind of obvious to either be aware of offices like Austin Lafferty Solicitors who are very visible in Glasgow and East Kilbride, or to punch up our website and start from there. I reckon it is a numbers game – WH Smith have millions walking through their stores, and the legal firm are looking to position themselves (literally) to catch their eye.

In England the Legal Services Act has been in force since 2007, and we in Scotland are about to enact similar provisions this year. But actually, there is nothing to stop this kind of tie-up under present legislation, as long as there is clear demarcation and the solicitor does not divulge private client business or data to the landlord or other staff.

20 years ago I would have dismissed this idea as being several steps too far. But given now that most legal work is done in a PC or laptop, and fancy expensive offices in the city centre are for multi-national commercial and corporate clients or for lawyers with more money than sense, I see nothing wrong with having a customer-focused legal service area in a department store, a shopping mall or even an airport.

Just don’t make me offer you fries with that.

Royal wedding and planning for divorce.
Power of Attorney and Alzheimer’s test.

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