'Just another directory’ and other misconceptions: here’s what you need to know about The Law Superstore

By Matthew Briggs In About TLS

It has been a few months since we announced the launch of The Law Superstore to the world and we have been fascinated to see the response from the legal profession.

We’ve had legal service providers reaching out to us expressing their enthusiasm and excitement about the arrival of a genuine comparison platform to the market; we’ve met with potential partners from across the country who have posed pertinent questions (if you’re feeling left out, by all means contact us and we can arrange a demonstration - [email protected]); and we’ve been receptive to sceptics labelling us as ‘just another directory’.

We want to take the opportunity to address some of the key points raised and tackle those misconceptions we have come across to date.

The Law Superstore is just another directory

The Law Superstore is most definitely not a directory. Our technology goes far beyond any of the directories currently on the market and the functionality of our bespoke platform is considerably more advanced than anything currently available to the legal profession. In simple terms: we are offering legal service providers better quality cases, greater flexibility, real-time control, and a more cost effective long-term business development tool.

We have done this by investing heavily in a technology that accurately matches clients with partners, rather than spitting out generic cases to legal service providers. It goes without saying that a ‘cold’ case is a waste of time, money and resources to a firm. Our focus is on delivering red-hot cases to partners from clients who have outlined their requirement, compared providers and selected a firm. 

The beauty of our comparison service lies in the quick-fire questions we ask of clients and the filters we provide as part of the connecting process. Search criteria such as quality, location, price, opening hours and languages can all be used to generate a refined comparison table – one that is shaped by the client’s needs. 

Where we also differ from directories is in the control we offer partners. Legal service providers are able to turn services on and off at any time; amend pricing and develop pricing structures; manage information and track return on investment.

It is for these reasons that we are extremely confident when we say that The Law Superstore will outperform any other digital marketing platform currently available.

I’ve had the privilege of seeing TLS in action behind the scenes and it is a truly unique comparison site taking the best of the best functionality, and ideas from tangential market comparison sites online. From what I’ve seen so far, TLS provides an intelligent, sophisticated and intuitive search function.  

“Fundamentally, it provides choice, control and clarity for the consumer; and equally, choice, control, rich data and a unique quality lead for the legal service provider"

Chrissie Lightfoot, CEO EntrepreneurLawyer Ltd., one of the world’s top women futurists, and author of the Naked Lawyer series

It’s all about price and legal service providers will ultimately have their margins squeezed

Another common theme we’ve come across and one that is understandable, but incorrect.

Right from the outset, The Law Superstore’s philosophy has been based on quality: quality of functionality and usability; quality of case generation; and most importantly, enabling clients to assess legal service providers on quality.

While pricing will play a role in a client’s decision alongside location, opening hours and other search criteria, TLS has been designed to encourage user-generated quality ratings.

If this concept seems somewhat alien, just take a look at the thousands of bookings now made every year through the likes of Tripadvisor – a site built on quality comparisons.

The Law Superstore will push customers towards whomever pays the most rather than the best firm for the job

Currently, it is completely free for law firms to register and feature on The Law Superstore. A crucial element of our business model is the fact that we will not allow any firm to pay for improved rankings.

We are committed to providing a level playing field for legal service providers, not least because the long-term success of the platform relies upon customers being happily matched with a partner they trust and value. 

“In my opinion, I don’t think there is any other proposition currently in the legal market that comes close to The Law Superstore. Clearly, there has been a significant amount of time and money investment made, with a great deal of consideration given to how the law firms can interact with the platform” – John Llewellyn-Lloyd, Arden Partners 

The default position for legal service providers appearing on any given comparison table is based on location – i.e. the nearest partner to the client is listed first. However, clients are also able to utilise an Advanced Filter Search and refine their searches to meet their criteria.

Here’s an example of how the system might work:

A married woman is seeking advice on a divorce and separation matter. Her preference is to speak with a female solicitor, as she feels more comfortable discussing the matter with another woman. Due to rigid working hours and childcare commitments, she knows she will find it difficult to arrange a face-to-face appointment during normal working hours or at the weekend.

In this scenario, the client will be able to filter their search to find a firm that employs female solicitors and is open late on a weekday evening. The comparison table readjusts instantaneously to meet the requirements of the client and provide the partner firm with a well-matched lead.

Why would I market through The Law Superstore rather than just relying on Google?

Another common question, and one to which our response would be: “Why do banks advertise mortgages, savings accounts and credit cards through their own websites, yet still utilise comparison sites such as Compare the Market or Go Compare?”

The answer is that both channels form part of a comprehensive marketing strategy and both channels have their own merits. The two do not need to be mutually exclusive. Registering with The Law Superstore does not prevent a company’s website from being picked up on Google rankings.

The most competent firms with expert digital marketing teams may already generate a healthy number of leads each year through Google. But even the world’s largest search engine is not designed to produce instant like-for-like legal search results in one cohesive digital environment - something we know there is an increasing demand for in the digital space.

79% of people would consider using a legal services comparison site, according to market research

What potential partners should know, however, is that the advanced matching process designed to connect clients with partners on The Law Superstore will provide legal service providers with better quality cases than Google.

As a bespoke open source platform that has been built from the ground up, The Law Superstore represents the UK’s only real-time whole of market legal services aggregator. Millions of lines of code have been created and thousands of complex algorithms used to get us to where we are today.

TLS is the holy grail that the legal market has been desperate for in terms of requirement for both the legal provider and legal buyer” – Chrissie Lightfoot

What is this ‘unmet demand for legal services’?

In recent reports, the LSB have referred to the ‘Access Gap’ in the legal profession – an issue that sees more than £5bn of latent legal business go untouched every year. This issue is a key driver in the work we are doing at The Law Superstore.

The LSB’s own research has indicated that 50% of individuals will experience a legal issue at least once every three years, yet only 20% will use a lawyer. Similarly, almost 40% of small to medium businesses will encounter a legal problem in a 12 month period but less than one in five of those will seek advice from a regulated lawyer.

Individuals and businesses are digital animals today and want their products and services to be available with great ease and simplicity, at the click of a button. Increasingly, people are put off by problems such as jargon; lack of clarity on pricing; an inability to compare providers; difficulty in completing purchases; and a perceived lack of value for money.

Our belief is that the legal profession has some way to go in meeting the needs of the end consumer, but that a genuine legal comparison website can help to ease these problems and encourage people to buy much-needed legal support. 

As with any pioneering innovation, time will tell how effective it will be, but based on the success of non-legal comparison websites together with the quickly changing buying habits of consumers, TLS is well positioned to be a sustainable and cost-effective way for law firms to acquire new clients” – John Llewellyn-Lloyd

What’s the deal with referral fees?

The Law Superstore charges partners when pre-qualified cases are delivered to them. The only exception to this is in Personal Injury and Motoring Offence cases, which will be subject to a different marketing fee mechanism to comply with current legislation.

The Law Superstore will sell rankings to the highest bidder

At the moment, it is free to feature on The Law Superstore, and so we have no vested interest in favouring one firm over another. A legal service provider is only ever selected by the clients, based on their search criteria and their chosen provider from the comparison table. We will not amend search algorithms in response to commercial incentives. 

Partners will be given the option of highlighting offerings through a ‘Featured Service’ function, but this will have no bearing on our search algorithms.

A partner’s profile on The Law Superstore is meaningless and is simply a way to generate more referral fees

An important aspect of The Law Superstore’s functionality is to provide firms with a virtual shop window, where a partner is able to showcase their qualities and sell directly to a potential client. As with any online platform, your digital space is what you make of it and we would encourage partners to look at how posting good content such as client testimonials can benefit them.

Providing the information supplied is accurate and lawful, a partner is free to promote their credentials to the individuals and businesses looking for legal services.

For our part, we are concerned with making TLS a transparent and open aggregator. This means that the only information we generate on behalf of our partners is the quality rating determined by client feedback.

If you are keen to find out more about The Law Superstore, visit www.thelawsuperstore.co.uk/partners or email our team at [email protected] and we can give you further details.

•This article was originally posted on Linkedin


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