Solicitors and barristers are being targeted to join a new comparison website that claims to be the “new generation” of legal referral businesses by requiring participating law firms and barristers to offer fixed-fee services.
Founder Michael Welsh, a former in-house solicitor, said CompareLegalCosts.com also moved away from the referral fee model and is instead charging firms and barristers just £250 a year to be members – advertising will be a key revenue generator as well.
The site – backed by a Guernsey-based trust – aims to be the “Go Compare” for people seeking lawyers, and enables consumer and business clients to receive three fixed-price quotes from local solicitors and barristers within 24 hours.
Having been piloted in East Anglia, the site currently has around 30 law firm members and is now targeting solicitors and barristers with a series of roadshows, starting today in Cambridge and moving to Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester next month. It will have a full public launch later in the autumn.
Mr Welsh, formerly a partner at Bristol law firm TLT and legal director for a telecoms business, said a cap would be put on the numbers on the panel.
He added: “The Legal Services Act is going to bring dramatic changes and, while we may not see opera singers promoting lawyers just yet, greater price transparency and certainty for clients is very much part of the new environment.
“CompareLegalCosts.com is all about helping existing practitioners benefit from the new environment through helping them gaining access to new local leads at highly competitive membership rates.
“The reassurance for users of CompareLegalCosts.com is that they will get fixed-price quotes from properly qualified and regulated solicitors’ firms and barristers, allowing them to avoid the pitfalls of some online-only offerings.”
He said that rather than encouraging competition purely on price, the site was likely to reward those firms which are well organised and respond quickly to users. “The person who goes in with a cheaper price the next day will lose out,” he predicted.