NEWS

2012-03-01

Lawyers touting for divorce

FAMILY campaigners have slammed a firm of no-win-no-fee solicitors who are touting for divorce business from people who are 'unhappy with their partners'.

Lawyers2you have been accused of 'exploiting the vulnerable' after putting up a special pop-shop in the bustling city centre of Birmingham - offering the thousands of passers by free advice if they are unhappy in their relationships and seeking divorce.

An advert placed in the busy shopping parade says: “Unhappy with your partner? Speak to us in confidence to discuss your options."

The company, which has offices in Birmingham and Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, says it offers 'swift and sensitive' service to help clients through divorce, separation or child custody battles.

But the advert has been slammed as insensitive and looking to exploit those in vulnerable situations by pushing them towards legal action rather than help them solve their marital problems.

Senior Birmingham Tory councillor Peter Douglas Osborn, who spotted the advertising board, said: “It seems the family is now under attack from some members of the legal profession.

“We must ask whether touting for business amongst the saddest part of life is encouraging people to end their relationships and do long term damage being done to children.“

Marriage guidance counselling service Relate also said it was surprised at the tone of the advert.

Chief executive of Relate Birmingham, Ruth Levesley, said: “If people are unhappy with their partner they should be talking to their partner first, and then come to a counselling service like Relate.

“They should not be talking to lawyers first.

“We offer support and advice to help people get through their relationship problems."

The busy shopping parade is passed by thousands of commuters every day as they make their way to and from the city's offices.

One of them Jeremy Allan, a 37-year-old accountant who walks past the Lawyers2you stand every day, said: "I was shocked when I saw the stand for the first time. It's not unusual to see law firms like this in shopping centres but to see them touting for divorce business seems to be going too far.

"My wife and I have the odd argument but I would never dream of discussing our relationship with a stranger who is standing in a shopping centre all day.

"The guys standing there might not even be qualified, you don't know who you're talking to and who they will pass the information on to. 

"I haven't seen many people stopped there and I don't think people would be stupid enough to use it."

But a spokesman for the Solicitors Regulation Authority defended the advert saying: “There are strict rules on what solicitors can and can't do in terms of advertising as laid down in the Code of Conduct, and we would investigate any suspected breaches of the code that are reported to us.

“However, this advertisement does not sound as though it breaches the code as it merely points out that confidential advice is available, and therefore it's just highlighting the services that solicitors offer.

“If anyone has any concerns about it that they want to raise with us, then they can get in touch.“

Two years ago a London law firm sparked outrage when it offered divorce advice vouchers for mistresses to give their married lovers for Christmas.