Consumer champions unveil fixed-fee comparison site

Topics: Costs, fees and funding,Family and children,Wills & Probate

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  • Kate briscoe

The founders of a consumer rights website today branched out to create a legal comparison platform allowing users to browse and compare the cost of legal services.

Legal Beagles says LBcompare will offer consumers the chance to compare fixed-fee costs for services such as divorce, wills and probate and powers of attorney, without the need to register or disclose personal data.

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The website has information on legal services provided by all Solicitors Regulation Authority-registered firms and sole practitioners, with the law service providers able to pay to enhance the prominence and content of their default listing, or create their own profile through a flat-rate subscription based on their size.

The site will also feature law centres, debt management providers, credit unions and PPI claims management companies.

The Legal Beagles website has been operating on a not-for-profit basis since it was founded in 2007 by friends Kate Briscoe (pictured) and Sharon Coleman.

Briscoe, a former consumer credit litigator with Brighton firm Howlett Clarke, said traffic figures for the site have reached a point where its private investors believe it can be a successfully commercial price-comparison site.

‘The idea for LBcompare evolved from constant requests about how and where to find a solicitor for particular legal issue and how much it might cost,’ said Briscoe.

‘LBcompare will provide the answers in the same familiar format as the mainstream comparison websites for insurance and financial products, except that we’ll include every single provider and not just those who pay us.’

She explained that the venture differed from other legal comparison sites by not relying on what she described as a ‘tired old’ lead-generating or data-harvesting model.

Since its launch in 2007, Legal Beagles has attracted more than two million unique visitors and registers 20,000 new members per year.

Briscoe and Coleman said they rejected an offer from private equity investors in April 2014 to buy a majority shareholding in the forum, to ensure the site remained independent and ethical. The company was estimated at the time to have a total value of £7m.

Readers' comments (13)

  • how many of these comparison sites will the market stand ??

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  • Maybe there could be a site to compare the comparison sites

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  • Lawyers are not like insurance companies - most law firms are small high street ones with a few practitioners. Remember Quality Solicitors and beware!

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  • "LBcompare will offer consumers the chance to compare fixed-fee costs for services"

    That's fine and dandy for insurance where, by and large, you're buying a simple, instantaneous product generated by an algorithm.

    However, if you're going through a traumatic experience like divorce or death of a loved one, dare I suggest that there might be things other than price that you might be interested in. How about bedside manner, competence, quality, location, accessibility, etc etc .....

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  • I, and I'm sure many other people, completely agree with you about considerations other than price. I have had a quick look at the site in question and to be fair to them it seems they have many of our concerns pretty much covered (unlike many other legal comparison sites).

    Although it quite clearly says it is still in BETA mode it does appear to already feature
    - star ratings which I assume would cover "bedside manner" ,competence and quality
    -location searches, either entering an address or geo-location(the option I tried)
    -accessibility details, including wheelchair access, hearing loops, sign language and good old legal aid

    As for small high street firms, I can see it may be beneficial for them and allow them to rank up alongside the Legal 500's, especially if a location search is used alongside ratings, as we know the smaller firms/sole practitioners tend to be more approachable, friendly and attentive, rather than mass production soul less CRM programs on auto.It will also allow them to distance themselves from the QS model and remain fully independent.

    As Ms Briscoe alluded to in the article, many consumers are reluctant to enter personal information and await a callback, or only have a small number of "panel members" to choose from.

    I suppose we will have to wait and see if the LBcompare.co.uk website is any different, but I know many in my area are already seriously considering signup after the free period.

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  • Well said Anonymous 07.02pm
    If I didn't know any better, I would guess you represent the said company.
    I'm more concerned about how to deal with the unfair negative Google reviews who haven't decided to use the new but disappearing public views of solicitors websites!!!!

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  • Go LBcompare! I would gladly sell my house and its contents as well as my wife into slavery to help this new venture flourish!

    In this part of Hertfordshire analytics and data generation is all we ever speak about. Why only the other day I spoke to some broke who had found this creature in the bottom of a bottle of ginger beer. I said GoLBcompare and burst into song and everybody joined in!

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  • Why does the headline refer to them as "consumer champions"? The last time I checked, consumer champions did not operate websites where "its private investors believe it can be a successfully commercial price-comparison site."

    I have tried some of these "comparison sites". If you pay a nice fee, the "comparison site" will gladly tell the world at large that you are the best solicitor the world has ever seen and compare you very favourably to all the other solicitors. You then get hundreds of enquiries. All of which go along the lines of "I need some free legal advice", or "this conveyance is really, really simple and straightforward, I don't want no messing about and it needs to be as cheap as possible. If you do it for £150 plus VAT I might give you more work", or "hi, I am a genuine client wanting to find out how much you charge, even though I have registered on the site with an email address of a local law-firm competitor".

    Complete and total waste of money, unless you like those sorts of clients.

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  • Yes, the Legal 500 was always totally independent in its reviews and assessments...........!

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  • I'm going to launch a comparison site to compare all of the other comparison sites. It will be a game changer!

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