The momentum may be with Alternative Business Structures (ABSs) right now as they pour through the newly removed gates to providing legal services – but high street solicitors still have a few secret weapons up their sleeves.
For example, they can spell and employ apostrophes correctly (unlike Apprentice contestant Alex Mills’ new legal brand Dynamo Legal). And they are of course qualified in the law (unlike many of the paralegals set to be employed by ABSs over the next few years). After the novelty of legal market deregulation wears off, such attributes could yet save the day, reckons Junior Lawyers’ Division’s new chief Heather Iqbal-Rayner.
In the meantime, Iqbal-Rayner is intent on playing the likes of Dynamo Legal at their own game by focusing on the “solicitor brand”.
“It’s important to convey to the public the quality of service we can offer. If we don’t do this, they will think it’s OK to use an ABS staffed by paralegals,” she tells Legal Cheek‘s Kevin Poulter and Alex Aldridge over tea and biscuits in the magnificent confines of the Law Society’s Chancery Lane headquarters.
In sending out this message, Iqbal-Rayner is conscious that she’s walking something of a tightrope if she’s to balance it with her other main JLD aim: to boost diversity.
“Increasing diversity means opening up new routes to becoming a solicitor, including non-graduate paths,” she says. “The key thing is that people know, however it is arrived at, that the title of solicitor denotes quality and an ability to deliver the best service.”
At a time of crisis for the junior end of the legal profession, will Iqbal-Rayner rise to the challenge and become the JLD’s Churchill?
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