Private investors back comparison site
A Hertfordshire solicitor says he has secured £500,000 of private investment for a website that enables consumers to compare law firms’ prices, in the latest move to stake out territory in the fast-developing sector.
The announcement, by CompareLegalCosts.com, was made in the week that the Law Society revealed that it is investigating setting up its own online ‘comparison facility’.
Employment solicitor Michael Welsh launched CompareLegalCosts last year to enable consumers to compare fixed-price quotes for services. The site is free to consumers and paid for by law firms’ subscriptions. Consumers and businesses can without obligation get up to five fixed quotes from solicitors and barristers.
Welsh said that the site was the first to commit to fixed prices. ‘Consumers and businesses demand fixed-price services like those being offered by the Co-operative and Riverview Law. This site enables the legal profession to be on a platform that allows them to compete with large brands,’ he said.
Welsh said that 100 firms have already signed up, and while he wants to increase the number, it will be restricted to ensure firms secure a suitable volume of leads.
The new funding, from a group of anonymous private investors, will be used to market the company, he added.
Other legal services comparison sites include LegalCompare.com, bid4fees.com and Wigster.com.
The Legal Services Board and the Legal Services Consumer Panel have called for professional bodies and regulators to engage with comparison websites.
Earlier this month, the LSB reported that consumers were often ‘swamped’ by information online and gave up halfway through their search. The board said there was real potential for an official and independent ‘legal advice and guidance’ site.
A Law Society spokeswoman said: ‘We respect the LSB’s objective of making it easier for consumers to choose a solicitor, and are investigating development of a comparison facility using our data.'
However, she indicated that the initiative was still in its early stages and will be developed further in 2013.