Legal sector must be more affordable, says entrepreneur

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yorkshire internet entrepreneur Ajaz Ahmed will travel to Switzerland this weekend to tell international business students about innovation and change in the UK legal sector.

The co-founder of Freeserve, who has invested in a fixed-price online service called Legal365, is speaking at the LawWithoutWalls conference in Zurich.

Mr Ahmed is a vocal critic of the legal establishment and his new firm, a venture with Bradford-based Last Cawthra Feather, aims to gain market share from high street firms.

The introduction of alternative business structures via the Legal Services Act threatens to wipe out many smaller law firms in a highly fragmented market.

But it is also expected to create major opportunities for entrepreneurial practices that use external equity to grow market share.

Mr Ahmed has claimed that the majority of lawyers are in “complete denial” about the impact of the legislation or have no idea of how to respond.

“The legal profession in this country has not changed for as long as anyone can remember and needs to adapt to the modern customers needs,” he will tell the conference.

“Innovation and change is what is required in this industry and that is going to come from people outside of the industry.

“People that can inject a fresh prospective and ideas that have successfully worked in other industries. Maintaining the status quo is not an option.”

Mr Ahmed said that the legal sector must become more consumer focused.

He added: “It needs to learn to start talking the customers’ language, it has to stop and think, does my customer actual understand what I’m saying?

“It has to make legal services more approachable. It has to make legal services more transparent and affordable.”

Mr Ahmed believes that the UK can be a world leader in legal market reform and will urge international business students to “learn from us” and implement change in their own territories.

International investors from the United States and China are already looking at opportunities in the UK legal market.

In a reference to the Act being dubbed Tesco law, Mr Ahmed said: “There will be an awful lot of causalities, firms that can’t or won’t adapt, firms that have their head firmly buried in the sand, firms that make jokes about people buying their cornflakes at supermarkets.

“It’s an absolute fact that some of those solicitors that rubbish supermarkets actually bank with these same supermarkets and 10 years ago they would have rubbished the thought of supermarkets becoming banks.”