The clear message was that consumers find legal services to be confusing and do not understand how services are priced. Just 9% of people surveyed were confident that they knew what legal services cost while an overwhelming 80% of people believed that law firms should publish prices to make it easier to draw comparison between firms. In overestimating the cost of legal services it is thought that millions of people across England and Wales could be missing out on vital legal support.
The uncertainty around pricing and service delivery is particularly apparent across common legal services such as wills and probate, conveyancing and divorce, where it is thought that consumers can overestimate cost by up to double the actual price. Only 22% of interviewees said that they always used legal services when they needed them, while 26% of respondents chose not to buy legal services despite a clear legal need.
The importance of publishing prices and offering greater transparency is made more significant due to the fact that 51% of interviewees ranked value for money as the single most important factor in choosing a legal service provider. Just 21% of respondents cited price as the reason for choosing a legal service provider.
These statistics are also reflected in The Law Superstore’s own website data, which shows that a sizeable 75% of people do not choose the cheapest option available from our legal comparison table. And just 9% of visitors to our website filter their results by price across more than 8,000 service listings.
The result of the problems faced by consumers in accessing affordable, transparent legal services include: cases not being pursued (15%); cases being prepared without professional legal assistance (22%); significant time wasted (18%); individuals losing out financially or otherwise (17%).
Matthew Briggs, CEO of The Law Superstore says:
Lawyers play a critical role in helping people to get the best legal outcome, yet consumers are saying they are confused about how much their services cost and aren’t always seeking advice when they need it. This has to change.
“The regulator is already investigating how we create a more transparent industry and this research shows just how critical this is. People want to understand what they are getting from their lawyers to achieve value for money, rather than simply purchase services for rock bottom prices.”
Other findings from the study showed that once engaged with a lawyer, consumers generally enjoyed a positive experience (71%), with 58% of people feeling that they were supported throughout the process. In contrast to this, a third of people found it difficult to find out what their fees would cover up front, while 32% admitted to having experienced unexpected charges. 71% of respondents thought that seeing the same service offered more widely through aggregator sites was a good thing.