Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

The Shape of Legal Advice Is Changing; Sector Focus: The Legal Profession Now, More Than Ever, Lawyers Need to Be Business People Whose Legal Expertise Is Matched by Their Commercial Awareness, Says Bryan Hoare, Pictured Right, Director of Marketing at the Multi-Disciplinary Practice BHP Law, Which Has New Offices on Teesside

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

The Shape of Legal Advice Is Changing; Sector Focus: The Legal Profession Now, More Than Ever, Lawyers Need to Be Business People Whose Legal Expertise Is Matched by Their Commercial Awareness, Says Bryan Hoare, Pictured Right, Director of Marketing at the Multi-Disciplinary Practice BHP Law, Which Has New Offices on Teesside

Article excerpt

Byline: Bryan Hoare

HOW comfortable would you be selling your house at a supermarket or picking up a divorce as you do your weekly shop?

It might sound extreme, but whole scale change in the legal sector could potentially see a range of services traditionally offered by law firms being touted by retailers and other non-legal providers.

In a free market, barriers break down. Innovation is rewarded. Thriving in this competitive new world will require a different approach.

The merits of the changes include greater choice for clients and fresh opportunities both for non-legal organisations and law firms that are forward-thinking and innovative.

Multi-disciplinary practices are at the forefront of these developments so clients have a wider choice of services, some of which are not necessarily directly related to law. BHP, for example, has a sports management division, led by former Darlington FC manager and qualified Football Association agent David Hodgson, one of the biggest in-house town and country planning departments in the region, an estate agency, and independent financial advice - none of these would ordinarily be associated with a law firm.

The most obvious impact could be on the high street, maybe not in the immediate future, but longer term. The traditional law firm as we have come to know it could all but disappear as clients become used to accessing legal services from new, perhaps unconventional, providers, leaving smaller practices unable to compete. Or they could take the opposite view and shed services to specialise in one or two areas.

The personal injury market is an example of where specialist firms have all but taken over from "traditional" lawyers since advertising restrictions were lifted. The explosion in this area led to concerns, especially over the introduction fees being paid to claims management companies. …

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