Solicitors urged to be mindful of changing consumer habits

Solicitors are being reminded to consider the fact that legal services consumers are likely to show differences in the ways in which they choose their ideal solicitor, depending on the kind of legal issues they require assistance with.

According to a report from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), almost three quarters (71 per cent) of consumers hunting for a conveyancing solicitor will typically spend anywhere up to an hour researching their options – with 15 per cent of consumers predominantly interested in obtaining pricing information.

The study suggests that consumers looking for these services are likely to select their ideal solicitor based mainly on price and affordability.

However, the Law Society has warned that this is less likely to be the case when it comes to other, more complex, areas of the law – where consumers may prioritise experience and expertise over price.

“On the basis of our own research across different areas of law, I would advise the SRA not to extrapolate from one area of law to draw conclusions across the whole marketplace,” said Law Society President Joe Egan, criticising the SRA’s report.

“In addition, people’s priorities and decisions change as their legal situation becomes more complex – the experience of the solicitor, their skill-set and regulatory protections were valued over price the more complex an issue became,” he said.

The comments come at a time when law firms are facing new pressures to openly publish pricing and other information about their services, as part of a move spearheaded by the SRA.

However, while the SRA argues that “more clearly signposted information on price could help people,” the Law Society insists that liaising with a solicitor directly and discussing price and other issues head-on are the “most appropriate” ways for clients to agree on and receive a high quality service in line with their expectations.

He said that an increasing number of SMEs were realising this and had already begun exploring “strategic approaches” towards recruitment and growth.