NAHL Group – the business that owns the National Accident Helpline – has accelerated its march into conveyancing with the launch of a legal comparison site.
The Solicitor Finder is initially focused on the residential property sector but will be expanded into other sectors in due course. It is open for firms to join.
It is being run by Fitzalan Partners, the conveyancing lead generator that the AIM-listed company acquired a year ago as it sought to diversify away from being a pure personal injury business.
The Solicitor Finder enables customer to compare fees, and its panel firms must supply fixed-fee quotes for standard conveyancing transactions.
Results can be filtered to ensure the solicitor or licensed conveyancer can work with a customer’s mortgage company. Conveyancers will be able to use and change their own pricing, and have a profile page to promote their firm.
They will have a choice of two models, ranging in price from around £50 to £125 per case: either to receive qualified leads or confirmed instructions in which part of their fee is paid by deposit.
Fitzalan is also introducing a standard set of disbursement fees, along with a search bundle provided by Searches UK, which NAHL bought in January.
The product “could open up the reach and audience for conveyancing firms, providing them with a competitive cost of client acquisition”, it said in a statement.
Richard Rickwood, the company’s managing director, told Legal Futures that comparison sites were here to stay in the legal industry, after first becoming firmly established in the travel and insurance industries.
He stressed that what was being offered to conveyancers amounted to more than leads. “They are not leads – every single one of these is a customer who has said ‘yes, I want that firm’ and ‘yes, I want you to give my details to them’.”
Fitzalan, which was founded in 2011, generates enquiries in the form of incoming calls, online call-back requests, and leads through its conveyancing and survey quote engines. Confirmed instructions are then allocated to a panel of more than 80 law firms.
The move represented a departure for Fitzalan, Mr Rickwood said. “This appeals to a different part of the market. It appeals to a customer who wants to look for legal services online and wants to compare them, whether by service, by location, or price. That’s a different part of the market.”
He said that in due course The Solicitor Finder would be applied to legal areas other than conveyancing. But not all areas of law were suitable for customers to make informed choices about legal services, he observed.
“There are some services where the customer can make a genuine comparison and know they are comparing like with like and can make a choice based on their own criteria – whether that is price, rating, or geography. Whereas, in certain legal services if as a customer you are not too sure what the service is that you want, you probably need to engage with a lawyer to understand that.”