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Strategic Development & Regulation

20th August 2013

So how’s the pick-up in the housing market for you? If I tell you that I think competition is going to get even hotter than it was in the lean years, do you feel exhausted or say ‘bring it on’?

Conveyancing is a highly commoditisable legal service and some providers are delivering at volume, but the market is still massively fragmented. Experience in other sectors would indicate that we should expect significant consolidation. And with more money coming in as the economy takes its faltering steps to recovery, funds for growth will become available to drive that faster.

Commoditisation is not the end of professionalism – far from it – it is an inevitable part of modern business. It means we can deliver services in ways, to the standard and at a price consumers expect.

Achieving high standards and attractive prices in such a competitive market means making sure that each aspect of our operations is optimised. What’s overlooked, because for so long we in the legal sector have had no choice, is the role that different regulatory approaches could play in supporting us as we innovate to meet consumer needs better.

Many lawyers are not aware that they can shop around for regulation following the Legal Services Act 2007. And in fact there are some obstacles to a truly ‘free market’ in regulation that I hope the government’s new review will sweep away.

That should not stop us thinking not only about which workflow systems to use and how to streamline risk management, but also whether a different regulator might suit our business better. Do you need a generalist like the SRA because you provide a wide variety of legal services or the specialist CLC, with clearer rules and with experience of helping the regulated community innovate while providing high standards of consumer protection? Which approach to regulation could better support (strange idea perhaps, I know) your business model?

I’m not giving you the answer. That will depend on all sorts of issues that are unique to your business. My advice is simply to exercise your right to shop around and look for a regulator that enables your business to flourish.

 

Jonathan Gulliford

Freelance Consultant

 

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