Regulators running a web guide to legal services say that 10% of all people seeking legal help visit it. According to an announcement by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Legal Choices has more than three million visits since October 2017, up 20-fold on the previous three years. One in five small businesses using legal services has found information through Legal Choices.
The site is operated by seven legal regulators and claims to provide independent, factual information designed to help the public and small businesses under their rights, legal terminology and the types of adviser available to them.
It went live in 2014 but failed to make much of an impression in its early years before a three-year development plan was hatched in 2017. This was made in response to the Competition and Markets Authority recommendation for more consumer information to be available. But the service received a blow last November when the Bar Standards Board pulled its funding, saying it could get information to the public through its own website.
In spite of this, the remaining contributors have developed a range of new features, including a searchable dictionary of legal terms with plain English definitions, a ‘build your own information’ pack tool, and an automated chatbot giving tailored information to people facing eviction. This final element has received 100,000 views this year.
Sheila Kumar, chair of the Legal Choices governance board, said: ‘Legal Choices is an accessible and up-to-date way of reaching consumers and helping them to choose and use a lawyer and has really proved its value during the Covid-19 pandemic.’
She said that the partner regulators have now committed to a further three-year development programme, although it is not clear whether they will increase funding.