LSB to 'mystery shop' solicitors and will-writers


Wills under scrutiny: panel will assess quality of solicitors' and will-writers' work

The Legal Services Board (LSB) has unveiled plans to ‘mystery shop’ solicitors and will-writers as part of its research into the market – and is looking for a panel of both to assess the quality of what is produced.

After securing around £60,000 of support from the Solicitors Regulation Authority and Office of Fair Trading – as revealed exclusively on Legal Futures – the LSB, its consumer panel and the funding partners have commissioned IFF Research to explore the experience of consumers getting wills from different channels and test the quality of the wills produced.

IFF will recruit 100 consumers who are looking to get a will – 40 who want to use a solicitor, 40 who want to use a will-writer and 20 who want to do it themselves, using either an online provider or a paper-based product. The sample will be selected to have an even split of consumers with simple and complex circumstances.

IFF will follow them through the process of selecting and using a service provider, and then have the quality of the wills produced assessed by a panel of solicitors and will-writers.

The LSB is seeking volunteers who would be willing to look at 20 anonymised wills. All volunteers should have at least five years’ current experience of writing wills, including relevant CPD in the past three years.

Panel members will be asked to assess whether the will is fit for purpose and note any issues of concern The study will not at any point publish the names of any of the firms producing wills as part of the study or the individuals participating.

The time commitment for volunteer members of the panel will be minimised with an initial set-up meeting to agree assessment criteria, assessment of the 20 wills at a time and place of their convenience, and a final wrap-up assessment. Only travel expenses to the two meetings in London will be paid.

The LSB is aiming to start a pilot study in January with the full study taking place in February and March.

Any practitioners who are interested in volunteering should e-mail Alex.Roy@legalservicesboard.org.uk, together with a declaration of any representative roles they have held in the past five years.

As , the LSB will not make a final decision on whether will-writing should be regulated until 2012.

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