SRA unveils strategy to “educate, engage with and empower” consumers

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By Legal Futures

10 October 2011

Clients with hearing problems: project investigates whether they are well served

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has launched a new strategy aimed at ensuring the interests of consumers “sit at the heart of the legal services marketplace”.

We can also reveal that the SRA is working with the Legal Services Consumer Panel on a project to determine whether the legal profession is meeting the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing.

The SRA’s work in consumer affairs focuses both on empowering individuals to confidently use legal services, and on building the consumer’s voice in regulation.

As previously reported on Legal Futures, the SRA and the Bar Standards Board have been leading a project with all the other regulators to create an online virtual community, called ‘Legally Speaking’, to engage with consumers.

Among other initiatives, the SRA is to run an event at which it will ask consumers directly what they think about law firms and the outcomes they get from them, what they want from the SRA and other regulators, and agree a ‘wishlist’ of support and information people would like to see available.

There will also be an event for advice agencies, charities and consumer organisations to launch the SRA’s improved customer support and guidance package.

The SRA’s director of inclusion, Mehrunnisa Lalani, said: “The rapid changes taking place in the legal services market means we need to up our game and be more proactive to make sure the public gets the best possible services and outcomes from these changes. We have an ambitious consumer programme based on education, engagement and empowerment in place to do just that.”

We have previously reported that the Legal Services Consumer Panel has chosen those with hearing loss as the subject for the first of a series of studies into how specific groups of consumers experience legal services, with a focus on those who are at risk of disadvantage.

The SRA has agreed to take the lead in this project, which is also supported by Action on Hearing Loss (formerly RNID), and will investigate:

  • Any circumstances that contribute to people with hearing loss becoming vulnerable when purchasing legal services;
  • The extent to which those circumstances result in adverse outcomes;
  • How far the legal and communication needs of this group are met by the legal profession; and
  • What practical steps the profession and regulators can take forward to improve accessibility of legal services and minimize adverse outcomes.

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