What do Alternative Business Structures mean for Conveyancers?

Having been lucky enough to attend the Legal Futures Conference yesterday in London it seems apparent, to me, that the legal market could eventually be turned on its head and that there is more potential change coming than there has been in the past. Outside investment seems to mean innovation and more competition in an already tough market.
It might not all happen very quickly but it could mean a substantial change in the number and the way in which conveyancing is delivered within a couple of years.
Whether you agree or not with Legal Services Act and Alternative Business Structures they are coming.  Your ability to accept change and evolve will also affect the outcome on your firm.  The message from the Legal Futures conference appeared clear; traditional law firms that often appear ‘stuffy’ are likely to be those that will suffer most. 
There has been plenty of talk in the profession about how the Legal Services Act and the implementation of Alternative Business Structures will affect law firms but in our particular sector of conveyancing firms have been able to accept external investment if they have been regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.  For example Countrywide Property Lawyers is a wholly owned conveyancing provider of Countrywide the estate agent.
That said conveyancers in general practice have, up to now, been able to rely upon internal cross sales from family law, probate and other departments who have not been competing with firms with non lawyer capital.  What will happen when some of these departments are fighting for work from new ABS organisations owned by much more commercial organisations.  Could this internal market of referrals dry up as the Co-op and the like push their brands towards your historic client base?
If, as a firm, you are under the impression that ABS will not affect you and you haven’t yet done anything to develop a strategy why not?  Notably there weren’t many lawyers at the conference but the 200 or so delegates that did attend the conference were left with a very clear message; If you don’t have a plan and you think that your firm will come out unscathed after 6th October this year you are burying your head in the sand.  As Prof. Richard Susskind said today “the competitor that kills you doesn’t look like you”. 
Radical change is coming, whether conveyancers like it or not, and many will need to differentiate themselves from their competitors or will simply end up competing on price.  Many already are.
If you don’t embrace these changes there is a real chance are that your firm could be one of those destined to fail.    Every conveyancer needs to deliver better service at a lower cost to the firm just to stand still, irrespective of your pricing decisions. 
Unfortunately many believe that the legal profession is slow to embrace any change but change it must if existing firms are to survive.
Do you have a strategy for dealing with the Alternative Business Structures — or maybe you don’t believe that you need to have one?  Conveyancing is set to become more competitive and more innovative — what will you be doing about it?
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