THE Legal Services Act has just come into force and it threatens to decimate high street legal firms. For years, in legal seminars across England and Wales, high street lawyers have been crying out against it. The new law hopes to create competition, but many have warned it could squeeze out smaller firms who lack the marketing muscle of the giants.
But Gary Yantin has come up with a plan to save the little known lawyers in your town. “I was sat in this seminar a few years ago, listening to a talk about how the Legal Services Act was going to be very scary for small high street firms and I thought there has to be another way.” Indeed, there was. It was then and there that Yantin hatched the idea for his business, High Street Lawyer.
“I thought there has to be a way of protecting the consumer and keeping high street lawyers in work.” He had been happily working in high street and in-house legal teams since 2000. “I got home, spoke to my wife about it and thought if I don’t do it, I’ll kick myself.”
The idea was simple. Create a brand that hundreds of small law firms can sit under, one that offers the same products at the same standards, at the same price. “It’s a bit like Interflora, where a bunch of Mother’s Day flowers look and cost the same from whatever Interflora shop you buy them from. Basic legal services can be offered in the same way.” For instance, simple will services can be bought from High Street Lawyer for £200.
To get started, Yantin went about forging partnerships and gathering money from friends and family. It wasn’t long before he had strong team of investors around him and half a dozen high street firms. He took the plunge, working full time on the business from July 2010.
“I was nervous, but I think nerves are a good thing. The business has huge scalability so it keeps me motivated.” This attitude seems to have done the trick. He’s on track to hit his 100 law firm target by 2012.
“I’ve had to learn loads of things fast, but my investors have been great – they bring so much knowledge and expertise to the table.” Yantin’s investors have backgrounds in franchising, retail, finance and professional corporate services. Yantin says getting great investors are an “invaluable” and highly recommended resource for anyone planning to start a business.
But what’s the toughest challenge yet? “Sticking to your original concept and not getting distracted by what other people in your field are doing. We’re had couple of sweaty moments, but I know we’re doing the right thing.”
CV | GARY YANTIN
Company name: High Street Lawyer
Number of staff: Four
Job title: Founder and managing director
Studied: Manchester Metropolitan University and College of Law, London
Drinking: “In the daytime, tea, milk, one sugar. After hours, single malt.”
Reading: “Mostly children’s books at (their) bedtime.”
Idol: Lord Alan Sugar
Favourite business book: Freakonomics
Motto: “Make every day matter.”