The Solicitors Regulation Authority today unveiled a searchable, online database of all 10,000 law firms it regulates.
Law Firm Search can help users check whether a particular firm is authorised by the SRA, with limited data such as contact details.
The regulator stressed the search will not bring up disciplinary information at this stage. However, speaking at the SRA Innovation conference today, chief executive Paul Philip suggested there will be ‘hyperlinks to any disciplinary finding’ appearing online in future.
It is understood the intention is to build the database over time to add more information which will help consumers to make choices about what firm to use: this may lead eventually to some disciplinary background.
The SRA also said it is not trying to compete with the existing Find A Solicitor service or other comparison sites, as it will not include information on services offered by different firms.
Philip said: ‘We know that consumers look to regulators for authoritative and reliable information. Open data is not just about transparency and availability - above all, the information we provide has to be useful.
‘We want to help people to make informed decisions when buying legal services. This first step makes our basic data freely available but we are looking at how best to open up access to more information.’
The data is updated daily and is free to access, re-publish and share.
The SRA will continue to make information available to comparison websites that have signed up to the Legal Services Consumer Panel’s voluntary code of conduct.