legalfutures

co

uk/wp-content/uploads/price-comparison-tag1

jpg”>Price comparison websites: consumer panel is putting them under scrutiny

The rate of new lawyer comparison websites is speeding up, with at least five ramping up in the past month

 

Arguably the most significant has been the launch of a UK version of FindLaw, the leading free legal information website in the US, where it receives around four million visits a month

There has also been the start of LegalCompare and Bid4fees, a revamp for iCompareSolicitors, and shortly the launch of Wigster

 

The Legal Services Consumer Panel is currently investigating the role of and issues around referral sites with a view to introducing best practice guidance for them

 Research done by the panel in the spring identified 36 legal referral sites at the time

FindLaw UK, which is owned by ThomsonReuters, says it offers “a one-stop, comprehensive website for individuals and businesses in the UK seeking information on legal topics and solicitors”

  

FindLaw UK provides a wealth of free information and also links to referral site Contact Law, which ThomsonReuters bought in early 2009 and statistics show is the most viewed online referral site dedicated to law

It takes up to 15% of the fees charged to the client for the referral

 

Contact Law is unlike most referral sites in that consumers have to speak to an adviser to narrow down the best solicitor for them, rather than doing it all online

FindLaw president Karl Florida said: “We expect FindLaw UK to be a substantial new source of inquiries for Contact Law member firms

” 

LegalCompare

com, which has been set up by solicitor Ian Howard, says it aims to build a national brand that will “enable solicitors to compete head-on with new market entrants under the Legal Services Act”

 

Visitors to the site can choose a solicitor based on proximity, price and customer ratings, and they then ask LegalCompare to instruct the chosen solicitor, who pays a referral fee

Visitors are also being offered a free before-the-event legal expenses insurance policy which will enable referrals to panel firms on a proximity basis

 

LegalCompare

com has retained “a market-leading search engine optimiser to ensure first-page ranking in all the major search engines”, while a national marketing campaign through various media “will follow later in the year”

Mr Howard said the current focus is to attract firms to list (currently for free) on the site, and added that he believed its user-friendly and slick nature would in time put it among the leading referral sites

 

Bid4fees

co

uk allows consumers to put their legal problem out to tender to law firms and then choose the bid that is most appropriate for them

Unlike Bidlegal

co

uk, which charges firms an administration fee to register and an annual fee, Bid4fees is free for firms to list but takes a 10% cut of the successful bidder’s accepted bid

The company would only deal with press queries by e-mail

 

iCompareSolicitors

co

uk has been going for a few months but recently undergone a revamp

It dubs itself a “truth comparison website” because current and former clients are able to post comments on their solicitor’s service

Others also offer this facility, but founder Colin Mahoney claimed that “none are as in-depth or easy to use as ours”

Firms have the opportunity to review any comments made

 

Solicitors pay £200 a year for an enhanced listing and have to agree to offer a free half-hour of initial advice

Mr Mahoney has worked in law firm marketing for nearly 20 years

 

According to the Law Society Gazette (see

co

uk” target=”_blank”>FindLaw,

bid4fees

co

uk/” target=”_blank”>Bid4fees,

wigster

com/” target=”_blank”>Wigster

 

Read Neil Rose’s Guardian blog on price comparison sites Sign up to our free e-newsletter

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