There is another big and complex problem that needs to be dealt with as the legal services market continues to change. Simply put, most clients, the general public and and small- and medium-sized enterprises, don’t know the difference between solicitors, lawyers, barristers and other qualified or non-qualified providers of legal services.The recent Ministry of Justice research Baseline survey to assess the impact of legal services reform provides strong evidence of this lack of understanding in the buyers of legal services. This confusion will hand a significant competitive advantage to any organisation that is willing to take advantage of it. The relaxation of barristers’ regulations can only complicate things further as legally qualified people of various types vie for the attention of clients by promoting their own type of legal solution. It appears to me as if the legal services industry is reorganising the deckchairs on its own Titanic. No one knows clearly where the ship is going and haven’t seen or can’t see the iceberg, faster ships and jet planes. OMG. ‘We are all going to drown!’
To cut through this lack of comprehension of the demand side of the market, we need to consider where is the benefit to the client of having a choice of lawyer types. That’s a benefit you can convey simply, as opposed to explaining the structure of the legal services industry. Benefits fall into a mixture of two types. Does the benefit save the client time/money/effort? Does it make them feel more secure, protected, happy - or even smug.
It helps to split the benefits into three levels - why see a solicitor, why use your firm and why buy a particular service or solution. The conclusion from this analysis in your firm has then to be regularly and imaginatively presented to the clients you want in the future, through whatever medium suits your clients best. The research, and Marketlaw’s experience, show that if you tell your clients the value to them of what you can do, they won’t feel the need to understand if any other type of lawyer can help them.