Co-op to pilot in-branch legal advice service

Source: Co-operative Bank

Customers of The Co-operative will this week find themselves at the forefront of a high street revolution, when for the first time they can access legal services through their local bank.

The initiative is being pioneered by The Co-operative Legal Services (CLS), which has teamed up with its sister organisation, The Co-operative Financial Services (CFS), in order to assess how legal advice can be delivered through selected Britannia branches.

Three Bristol-based branches are taking part in the pilot scheme over the next two weeks and will offer free legal advice to consumers who "drop-in" and to those who want an appointment. The results will then be analysed and used to help CLS formulate its future strategy

Eddie Ryan, Managing Director of CLS, said: "Later this year the Legal Services Act will radically change the way in which solicitor services are delivered in England and Wales.

"The shake-up that the new Act offers is absolutely necessary if legal services are to become more accessible to customers. Many people feel that solicitors communicate with them poorly, use jargon that is confusing and don't understand how services are priced.

"We believe that the presence of the Co-operative's trusted brand in the market place, together with our combination of first class products and services, provides customers with both greater accessibility and better value for money.

Rod Bulmer Managing Director, Retail, at CFS added: "There are nearly 350 branches of Britannia and The Co-operative Bank across the UK, so this pilot scheme will enable us to assess how legal services can be delivered on the high street. If successful, there is clearly great potential to bring these services under one roof."

The Co-operative Legal Services (CLS) has been set up to offer straightforward value-for-money services, provide an ethos of social responsibility and a level of protection that can only be provided by a diverse, multi-billion pound organisation.

When CLS was launched in 2006 it had a target of employing 150 people within a five year period but it has grown much more quickly than expected and currently employs more than 380 staff, who offer legal help and advice on personal injury claims, will writing, probate and estate administration, conveyancing and employment law.

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