The Co-operative Legal Services (CLS), which is at the forefront of the radical changes taking place in the delivery of consumer legal services, today (3 November) announced it is to enter the family law market.

CLS has been joined by three leading family lawyers from London-based law firm T V Edwards LLP – Jenny Beck, Managing Partner; Christina Blacklaws, Partner and Chris May, Head of Business Development and Strategy.

The three will develop the family law service intended to be launched in mid-2012, following a successful application for an ABS licence under the Legal Services Act.

Part of the Co-operative Group, CLS, which was set up in 2006 and currently employs more than 400 highly trained staff, offers straightforward value-for-money legal services, providing an ethos of social responsibility and a level of protection that can  be provided by a diverse, multi-billion pound organisation.

It offers initial free advice on a range of legal services including: personal injury claims; will writing; probate and estate administration; conveyancing and employment law.

Eddie Ryan, Managing Director of CLS, said: “We are working extremely hard with the Solicitors Regulation Authority in preparation for the introduction of Alternative Business Structures under the new Legal Services Act and we look forward to being able to provide a full range of legal services to our members and customers. I am delighted to welcome Jenny, Christina and Chris into The Co-operative to spearhead our future family law services.”

Martyn Wates, Deputy Group Chief Executive of The Co-operative Group, said: “The Legal Services Act will change the way in which legal services are delivered in England and Wales.

“We believe that the presence of The Co-operative’s trusted brand and values together with a combination of first class products and services will provide customers with greater accessibility to legal advice and better value for money.”

Jenny Beck said: “The Co-operative’s socially responsible and ethical approach is totally aligned with our own and we are delighted to have this opportunity to bring their shared values and principles to the practice of family law.  The Co-operative is a trusted brand and we aim to be a trusted adviser.   In doing so, we will aim to secure access to justice for all at a time when public funded services are contracting.”

Christina Blacklaws said “We are delighted to be able to develop a family law service which will be both innovative and pioneering and which will provide a reassuring and trusted option for consumers.   These are challenging times for both society and the legal profession, and our new range of services will address the very real need which exists as well as reaching out to those who do not currently access family legal services.”

Chris May said “Our team brings huge experience in delivering solutions to complex issues which go to the very heart of people’s lives.  Our approach will be to deliver these in a fair and equitable way whilst also providing opportunities for young lawyers who can develop their own careers as well as being open to experienced practitioners whose skills will be required to provide the more complex and demanding areas of work. “

The three individuals will commence work for the Co-operative with effect from today with the intention of the service going live in mid-2012 subject to CLS being granted an ABS licence under the Legal Services Act.

Notes to Editors:

Jenny Beck is a senior Family Law practitioner with over 20 years experience.  She specialises in complex cases concerning children.  She was recognised as Family Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year 2006.  She sits on the Law Society’s Access to Justice Committee and is co-Chair of the Legal Aid Practitioner’s Group.

Christina Blacklaws was formerly Senior Partner of specialist family law practice Blacklaws Davis before joining T V Edwards LLP.  She specialises in child care work and is both a collaborative lawyer and mediator.  . She was shortlisted for Legal Personality of the year at the Law Society Legal Excellence Awards in 2010.  She is a former Chair of the Law Society’s Family Panel and Chief Assessor the Law Society’s Children Panel.

Chris May is a former family law specialist and more recently has held a number of senior roles including Chief Executive and Operations Director in regional and London law firms.

For more information contact:

Dave Smith
Co-operative Legal Services Press Office
Tel: 0161 827 5614
Fax: 0161 832 2751


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