Will law firms be ready if customers start to ‘shop around’ for legal services?

Legal EyeFrom Legal Futures’ Associate Legal Eye

According to a report from the Legal Services Consumer Panel, the proportion of consumers comparing legal service providers remains unchanged year-on-year at 27%. This proportion drops even lower in certain areas of law, such as probate (16%) and personal injury (14%).

The much-publicised intention to force law firms to publish their prices on their websites – and also to possibly include reviews from clients – originated with the Competition and Markets Authority back in 2016. Since then a number of price comparison websites have sprung up. Take up of these services however would appear to be low so far with the consumer panel report saying that these sites remain ‘largely unused or opaque’.

Sarah Chambers, chair of the Legal Services Consumer Panel, said: “It remains a concern that seven out of 10 consumers do not shop around in the legal services market. ‘This needs to change if the vision of empowered consumers stimulating competition is to be achieved.”

Legal Eye MD Paul Saunders said: “Now that the Legal Services Board (LSB) has granted the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) application to introduce new transparency rules in full with a deadline of 1 December; law firms need to be alive to forthcoming guidance from the SRA and the Law Society as to what information they will need to make available on their websites and how prices should be presented.”

The rules require firms to publish more information on their websites about price, service and regulatory matters and will come in to force in December 2018.

The SRA has said it will issue guidance on how to comply with the requirements in the coming weeks. Paul Saunders said: “The SRA and Law Society will be issuing guidance and developing resources to help support firms in responding to the changes during the Autumn. This guidance will be critical in understanding how the requirements will be adopted practically by law firms.

Legal Eye will be keeping a close eye on developments in the coming weeks and working with our clients to ensure full compliance whilst also taking into account the commercial implications for the firm.”

Legal Eye is offering one-to-one guidance to firms around implementing the price transparency changes. Register your interest in this service by emailing or enquiring here. We’ll send you details of further guidance as it is issued and further information about how Legal Eye might be able to assist as the situation develops.

Read more here.

Associate News is provided by Legal Futures Associates.
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