Law Society: response to call to engage over comparison websites

The Law Society is investigating whether to launch its own solicitor comparison website, Legal Futures can reveal.

Thinking is at an early stage, but Chancery Lane has commissioned IFF Research to look into the feasibility of the project.

With the landscape of legal comparison sites fractured, and evidence showing that while few people use them at the moment, there is consumer appetite for such services, an offering with the Law Society’s brand behind it could be a strong proposition.

The society’s existing ‘Find a Solicitor’ website provides basic information for consumers, but a revamped site could include more detail on quality, areas of specialism and even price, although we understand that this last element in particular remains the subject of considerable debate.

Though the Law Society’s main website is due to be relaunched at some point this year, it is unlikely that any comparison site would go live until 2013.

The move is the body’s response to calls from the Legal Services Consumer Panel – backed, as we revealed this week, by the Legal Services Board (LSB) – for the professional bodies to engage with the issues around comparison websites raised by the panel in a report earlier this year.

The LSB has put a particular emphasis on the publication of the professional registers and has asked the Office of Fair Trading, which is currently considering the role of comparison sites more generally, to help take this forward.

The LSB is also to return to the issue of accrediting comparison websites in 2013/14, but in a newly published letter to the panel, board chairman David Edmonds said that “may still be too early to test the effectiveness of self-regulation”.

He continued: “During the intervening period, we expect that the regulators will take some steps to ensure that comparison sites develop in a way that supports consumers in choosing and using legal services.”

A Law Society spokesman said: “We respect the LSB’s objective of making it easier for consumers to choose a solicitor, and are investigating development of a comparison facility using our data.”

IFF Research is a leading research company that has also done work for the LSB in its investigation into making will-writing and estate administration reserved legal activities.

 

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    Readers Comments

  • This is long overdue – it’s staggering that the Law Soc hasn’t responded, not for the first time, to what QS have done. they have the budget, their site is powerful in google, yet the find a solicitor tool is totall cumbersome.

  • Peter Almond says:

    How can the Law Society set up a solicitor comparison web site? The whole point of the Law Society is that it is the representative body for all solicitors – so to direct users to one particular firm will be for them to act to the detriment of others.

    There is a danger that the Law Society will be accused of “croneyism” (memories of the Money Laundering Panel) and that in setting up its own system, others – probably more competent than the Society at running something such as this – will be squeezed out. We have seen it happen before.


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