Just 3% of consumers rate a recognisable brand such as Tesco, the Co-operative or the AA as an important factor when choosing a law firm, new research has found.
However, the survey of 500 consumers found that 26% would nonetheless go to one of those three brands for legal advice – but 74% would choose a traditional law firm.
The report’s authors, legal PR and marketing agency RTS Media, warned that the fact some consumers would opt for such brands even before they have begun actively marketing legal products to the public means there is no room for complacency among lawyers.
Though 94% of respondents were able to name a law firm or legal brand, personal recommendation was the most important factor in choosing a lawyer for 43% of them, followed by an up-front and fixed price (17%) and “the firm seems experienced” (14%).
Being able to call a lawyer directly (5%) and location (4%) also came ahead of “a brand that I recognise”.
In six of the seven areas of work polled, 70% or more said they would choose the law firm ahead of the high street brand, with consumers especially likely to turn to traditional law firms for family (83%), conveyancing (77%) and clinical negligence (77%).
The figure only fell below that for claims over mis-sold payment protection insurance, where 64% would choose a law firm and 36% a brand.
Ralph Savage, managing director of RTS Media, said the results “indicate a genuine interest from people to buy legal services from brands not commonly associated with that market”.
He added: “It is clear that consumers are ready to seek legal advice or buy packaged legal services from high street brands which they already know and trust, despite the fact that we are still months away from this being possible.”
Mr Savage argued that many law firms rely on their long-standing reputation and loyal client base for new instructions, “reticence towards the power of brand, profile raising and the power of the Internet and social networks is misplaced at a time of unprecedented change.”
The report said that while law firms are “justifiably proud” of their knowledge and expertise, they need to improve parts of their business by offering fixed prices, generating a pipeline of client advocates who will recommend their services, and providing accessible advice over the phone to improve customer care, alongside a business development campaign.