Whilst satisfaction with legal services remains strong and public trust in lawyers has increased, the proportion of consumers who shop around and compare prices before instructing a solicitor has remained at a small 27%.
This insight into the experience of everyday consumers of legal services came yesterday with the release of the Legal Service Consumer Panel’s Tracker Survey 2017.
Concentrating on both how consumers choose and use legal services, the study brought some interesting considerations into focus – especially when read in light of the SRA’s recent support of measures that would aim to increase transparency in the sector.
- The overall proportion of consumers who shop around and compare prices before choosing a provider remains small at just 27%
- Reputation remains the biggest factor for consumers when choosing a provider – however, in certain areas price has become equally as important
- Public trust in lawyers has increased to 45% from 42% in 2016
- Digital delivery continues to rise steadily and is now at 27%
As if to highlight the importance of shopping around, those who compared before settling on a provider said that they had more choice than those who did not. 87% of those who shopped around reported to have a fair or great deal of choice compared with 67% who did not.
So, how do the findings of the Legal Service Consumer Panel’s report relate to the SRA’s recent comments about price and transparency within the sector?
On June 29, the SRA released a response to a widely publicised CMA report that recommended that a lack of information on price meant that ‘the legal services market was not working well for the public and small businesses’.
In their response, the SRA agreed that ‘the lack of information on prices makes choices difficult, and stops people accessing legal services. Six out of ten people do not believe professional legal advice is an affordable option’ and confirmed that they plan to trial ‘a straightforward approach to firms publishing prices in a few areas of the law’.
With such a complex product, publishing prices online is understandably complex for law firms. But, with just 27% shopping around before choosing a provider, it is clear that in order for the legal sector to cater better for its consumers, transparency must be increased.
Price comparison websites have been suggested as a possible remedy to the lack of price transparency in the sector. However, platforms of this nature will present law firms with a familiar set of issues when it comes to publishing prices – firms will experience the same level of complexity when providing one size fits all figures without reviewing the specifics of individual cases.
LawBid offers a simple solution to the issues faced by both consumers and law firms when it comes to price transparency. Our system allows solicitors to review the details of a given matter, communicate with the potential client to ascertain more information and provide a quote that is specific to their circumstances. No best guesses, no one size fits all figures.
As for the consumer, their capacity to shop around and compare prices is enhanced by allowing them to confer with multiple firms at once and agree on a fee upfront.