Leading voices lend their weight to the argument for change

By Matthew Briggs In About TLS

Calls for change typically start as quiet mutterings. Over time those opinions become louder and, as further investigation takes place, others are forced to sit up and listen.

Nowhere has this process been more evident than with climate change. Once upon a time the theory that greenhouse gases were causing the Earth to stew in its own atmosphere was either laughed at or completely ignored. But as the evidence for global warming grew, so did the number of influencers who captured the public’s attention – including the likes of Al Gore and Sir David Attenborough.

As the recent climate talks in Paris have shown, even entire nations and the governments that rule them must eventually embrace change when it becomes a necessity rather than a choice. Today, even Jeremy Clarkson had stopped arguing against the science behind climate change. 

So, how does this all relate to the legal profession? Well, in case you hadn’t noticed, change is very much on the legal horizon. 

Not long ago, two high-level professional legal services reviews promised to ask serious questions about the barriers that are preventing innovation within the sector and look closely at how innovation can help to strengthen law firms’ relationships with the end consumer. The two reviews in question will be carried out by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Legal Services Board (LSB). 

The CMA will focus primarily on whether the legal services market is working well for consumers and small businesses, while the LSB has an additional focus on how change can unlock growth, increase productivity and address unmet demand.

The LSB, in particular, have identified that legal comparison websites will have an important role to play in facilitating consumer choice. As you would expect, this is music to our ears at The Law Superstore, and a vindication of the many months of hard work we have been putting in to create a platform that will benefit both the consumers and the profession as a whole.

The LSB also intends to look at attitudes towards digital legal services from both sides of the table, saying: 

The legal services market is evolving. More commercially minded providers and new forms of service delivery and pricing options are emerging. Consumers are increasingly looking for ways to meet their legal needs alone or with only minimal support from a lawyer. 

“Technological innovation is often a driver, with developments such as automated document services, question and answer portals and online dispute resolution services. These can all help bridge the advice gap by meeting consumer needs at a lower cost.”

From our perspective at The Law Superstore, we are keen to embrace change. But we understand that we must prove the value of innovation before it can gain acceptance from the profession as a whole. We are keen to build relationships with legal services providers and develop a dialogue by which we can work effectively to serve their needs, as well as those of the consumer.

One thing we are keen to stress, however, is that doing nothing is not an option. By 2020, it is estimated that 50% of the global workforce will be millennials – digital natives who will know no other way of operating – so the LSB report needs to examine ways in which the profession can respond appropriately to these changing demands. 

Another powerful voice in this debate is Professor Stephen Mayson, who is working with the LSB on how best to review the Legal Services Act. He says,

There are certainly mixed feelings about the use of comparison sites in the legal profession, but with news that the CMA is to study the legal services market amid criticism that consumers often lack sufficient information to make informed decisions, there seems an ever greater need for a platform that demonstrates transparency and choice. This is why, at a time of intense scrutiny, I am urging the profession to see the benefits that comparison sites such as The Law Superstore could bring to both the client and legal provider."

We are delighted that such an influential industry figure shares our views on the need for transparency and approves of the comparison site model as the vehicle by which to deliver choice. But above all, we are keen to keep the discussions going – only by sharing ideas and best practice will the profession as a whole move forward and meet the challenges it currently faces.

The Law Superstore is free to feature and for our launch month, all cases are completely free. To learn more, visit www.thelawsuperstore.co.uk/partners or email our team at [email protected]

 This article was first posted on LinkedIn

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