Retail might be the new frontier. The trend is catching on in the United Kingdom: Last April, bookstore WHSmith announced that it would open 500 legal “access points” in its stores. New legislation, nicknamed the “Tesco law” after the supermarket chain, allows non-lawyer investors to hold shares in British law firms, a change that is expected to make accessing legal services as easy as shopping at Tesco.
In America, doctors are also experimenting with providing services in stores. CVS, Duane Reade, Walgreens and Walmart all have walk-in clinics that let people consult a doctor or nurse while shopping. According to a study from Rand Corp., the number of retail clinics increased tenfold from 2007 to 2009.
Some lawyers argue that the commercialization of legal services has changed the industry for the worse, causing a huge surge in claims and a culture of litigation as people try to sue for just about anything. Others say that marketing and advertising simply help disenfranchised people learn about services that they wouldn’t otherwise know about.