Here we have an article from Legal Futures, one of the websites where the new Beagle venture, LB Compare, has been published. Back then, Kate, one of the owners of Legal Beagles, was “swamped with work” and Legal Beagles was allegedly driving Quality Solicitors’ consumer credit growth. The article clearly states that Kate was getting most of her clients through Legal Beagles, clearly the reason why she was hired by Howlett Clarke, otherwise why would they hire here when there are so many qualified people around and she had just begun her CILEx studies?
What all this shows is that Legal Beagles was not just in place to help people and its owners ran it purely for altruistic reasons. It is clear that Kate used the site to get herself into the legal profession despite her lack of formal qualifications. Legal Beagles was referring people to these firms behind the scenes, which is fair enough and, as the article says, a number of cases would have been handled on a CFA (conditional fee) basis. For those not familiar with the term, it’s roughly similar to what’s known as “no-win-no-fee”, meaning the legal costs do not have to be paid by the client from their own pocket. All well and good, but it does go to show the site wasn’t just there for the good of the people, but mostly for the good of a very few people.
All the while, a number of people were contributing to its growth, so much so that its overall membership base doubled in the past two and a half years, from 35,000 back in the summer of 2013, which is where the alleged £35m offer/valuation/fiction/opium dream, whatever you want to call it, came from, to 70,000 members at the time the LB Compare articles were published. Not bad at all, even if, as stated under quantity over quality and the numbers game, the raw figures do not tell the whole story.
There was an element of legal referrals behind the whole operation, which is fair enough when people needed professional help, and no doubt there are many cases when that’s what’s required, as opposed to amateurs with an exaggerated sense of self-importance like Nemesis, who think they know everything about every subject and no-one cares to check the accuracy of what they are posting. However, anyone attempting to recommend another legal services provider, either from personal experience or based on an acquaintance’s, would swiftly join the illustrious Ban Club.
Kate’s employment with Howlett Clarke would probably have made it difficult for them to offer a legal services comparison site as this would mean not only a conflict of interest, but also the potential for people to rate them below other participants. There would also have been room for other participating firms to wonder about the impartiality of the whole ratings system when one of the owners was an employee of a specific firm. Kate’s departure from HC clearly paved the way for this new venture.