The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from McClure Solicitors is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.
Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
18 | MCCLURE SOLICITORS
McClure Solicitors are a private-client legal firm based
in Glasgow, Scotland. Founded in 1853, they have 15
offices throughout the UK. McClure provide a unique
service to their clients as they offer clients a free will to begin
with, before offering other services afterwards. Managing
Director Andrew Robertson explains that their unique model has
worked well for them for a number of years, and discusses how
their set-up has allowed them to raise £30 million per year.
Following our foundation in 1853, McClure functioned like a standard legal firm until
1984. We were based in Greenock in the west of Scotland and provided mainly private
client services. I joined the firm in 1971 and decided to start providing wills free of
charge for a donation to charity in 1984. We still offer an excellent service that potential
clients need, but if people do not give us work we are not able to grow our business.
Since I took the decision, the company has never looked back. We now have 15 offices
in the UK and cover the whole of England, Wales and Scotland, with a Glasgow city
centre office as our central processing unit. We currently employ 91 staff, who are
managed by Stewart Moore, a co-director. We have a small management team of
six, which is made up of three men and three women. Each department is headed by
a manager and as a result of two recent developments, our volume of work and our
requirement for staff has increased significantly in Q4.
Our business model
McClure offers free wills for a voluntary donation for a charity of the client’s choice.
This service comes at a significant cost to us and does cause us a fair level financial
risk. All of our wills are free, regardless of how complex they are. We do not employ
an upper age limit and we will make home visits free of charge if necessary. This is
embodied in our ethos – “no cost, no catch, no excuse”.
We are partnered with 114 charities, all of whom refer their service users and
supporters to us. 45 per cent of our free will clients take a power of attorney and
ten per cent take a family protection trust (FPT). We developed the FPT in 2002 and
currently manage about 18,000 trusts. Our FPTs are used for various purposes, but
principally they allow flexibility in the distribution of estates on death. Our experience
is that some clients need a trust to back up their will. Our free will scheme generates
around 900 new clients per month. The income from the POAs and the FPTs funds
the free will scheme and the volume of clients from the free will scheme creates the
volume of POAs and FPTs. Our other services include estate agency, conveyancing,
probate, point of need, financial services and inheritance taxplanning.
Our staff enjoy working for a company that is going forward and where no two days
are the same. They are very much involved in the development of the business and are
AT A GLANCE
»Founded in 1853
»Based in Glasgow, with 15
offices throughout the UK
»Services: Private-client legal
firm offering a free will service
»No. of employees: 91
19MCCLURE SOLICITORS |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
encouraged to take responsibility for their
own work. Everyone, be they a director
or a clerk, knows that without good
service, any business, but particularly ours,
will fail. It’s not that we are regulated by
the Solicitors Regulation Authority for
England and Wales and The Law Society
of Scotland for Scotland; we are de
facto regulated by our charity partners.
Over half of our business comes from
the charities. They are understandably
risk averse. If we don’t continue to
impress them and their supporters, our
business will suffergreatly.
Our main accreditation is that more and
more charities and other introducers
want to partner with us. In addition, in
November last year we were awarded
“High Street Firm of the Year” in the
Scottish Law Awards. In October,
we were shortlisted as Law Firm of
the Year and Highly Commended for
Excellence in Business Development by
We have invested heavily in technology.
Our branch consultants input their client’s
data directly onto our server. Everything
is electronic apart from the principal
documents. We are a paperless office.
Our consultants have monthly team
meetings either in person or by Skype.
At each client meeting, the consultant
completes a detailed attendance note,
which is checked by a director, particularly
in relation to questions of capacity. At the
end of each piece of work the clients are
sent a feedback form, which is usually
completed electronically. Around 98 per
cent of those who respond are happy
with the service.
Our largest financial challenge is that our
only certainty is the cost of the free will
scheme. The resulting paid-for services
are not guaranteed. Our management
team therefore monitor the volumes
of appointments made, appointments
sat, sources of work, services taken and
income received on a daily basis. If there
is a train coming, we need to see it in
advance. Having said that, the nature of
our work is recession-proof and Brexit-
proof. We are confident that clients
will continue to need the services we
provide. We do “think outside the box”
and can adapt where necessary.
Our future plans
We intend to continue to develop our
business. This is inevitable anyway as
more introducers – particularly charities
– wish to partner with us. We would
not refuse them even if we wanted to
and we will have to employ additional
staff and open other branch offices to
service that need. Our aim is to raise
£500,000 in cash for charities and £50
million in legacies in a full year.
I believe that our business model
is unique in the UK. Other solicitor
companies might begin to try and
emulate us, but we are happy with that,
as the market is so large that there is
plenty of room for multiple players.
One in four of our free will clients
leave a legacy for charity. That’s about
four times the UK average. If every will
writer, whether solicitor or non-solicitor,
achieved that, legacy income for
charities would quadruple. This would
help charities to do so much more good
work, taking some financial pressure off
government and making us all feel that
little bit better about ourselves.
receiving the Highly
at The Law Society
I believe that
unique in the
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review
This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.
In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.
We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.
With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.
And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.
As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.