After the event, CEO Matthew Briggs shared his thoughts on the event, and in particular on the panel event around open data as a “building block of trust”.
"The SRA event was a fantastic opportunity to share best practice and a more strategic look at what the legal profession needs to do in order to satisfy client needs.
This fascinating conference brought together influencers from a number of industries to pool their experience and look at what the future might need to look like in order to build trust and confidence among consumers.
While it was interesting to gain the collective wisdom of representatives from the likes of healthcare, property and gaming regulators, the thing that perhaps struck me the most about the event was how unified the legal profession’s own bodies are becoming on issues of trust, transparency, choice and the empowerment of consumers.
There is now a real sense that the CMA, SRA, LSB and Legal Ombudsman are all pulling in the same direction and doing their best to highlight the need for a different client experience to drive progression in the industry.
Among the speakers was Elisabeth Davies, Chair of the Legal Services Board Consumer Panel. She revealed that latest results from their tracker survey (canvassing 3000 people since 2011) has shown that the number of people shopping around for a legal service provider is still only at 1 in 4, with no significant increase in the last 5 years. This has largely been attributed to the distinct lack of a comprehensive comparison tool and the fact that just 17% of law firms publish their prices online.
The survey did, however, show that people were finding it less difficult to transact in 2016 and that fixed fees were on the increase. Nearly half of transactions are now performed on a fixed fee basis and, as Elisabeth concluded: “We know that this is what consumers want.”
Among the criticisms of the current legal systems is the lack of a ‘Tripadvisor or Trustpilot” through which consumers can assess quality and make an informed decision when selecting a firm. And I was delighted to have the opportunity to explain that in less than a month, this will all change as we launch the industry’s first genuine, real-time comparison site for legal services.
The Law Superstore not only encourages people to shop around for the best deal, but gives them the confidence to do so through a transparent, flexible platform that features client ratings."
Regulators are calling for a comparison tool, but this isn’t enough
Of course, The Law Superstore welcomes the groundswell of support for transparency, choice and a genuine comparison tool. It is important that the regulators, influencers and governing bodies continue to push this agenda to ensure that the profession can begin to close the access gap.
However, I also feel that it is time we challenged regulators to go further – to take the necessary steps to implement these changes. Through our legal comparison website we have created a solution to many of the problems facing the sector and, in less than a month, consumers will be free to find and compare legal service providers around the UK. But I would question whether enough is being done to incentivize or even compel firms in the marketplace to act.
With the likes of the LSB’s latest research and the release of the CMA’s interim report it is impossible for the wider profession to ignore the challenges they face any longer. And we look forward to demonstrating to the profession how important it will be to the future of the industry.