An aspiring legal comparison website says it is encouraged by the competition watchdog's controversial report on the sector – despite the report outlining how difficult these sites may find it to succeed.
The Competition and Markets Authority last week lamented the lack of digital comparison tools to help pitch law providers up against each other.
The current usage and impact of these sites has been ‘very limited’, said the CMA, but comparison sites had highlighted ‘significant challenges’ in trying to tap into the legal services market.
‘Some of the reasons cited for not entering the legal services sector include the one-off nature of most transactions and the presence of intermediaries in the high-volume legal services areas (for example, mortgage brokers in conveyancing).’
Other providers complained to the CMA they have had difficulties in accessing data held by regulators.
The CMA said listings services with comparison features such as reviews and ratings, for example LegallyBetter and ReviewSolicitors, have had ‘low levels of use’ and are less useful than they could be.
Figures given by another website, Solicitor.info, show it has less than 10,000 reviews on its site – fewer than the number of solicitor firms in England and Wales.
The Law Superstore, due to launch in August and promising a wide range of comparison tools, ‘has found it difficult to sign providers to its website, for a number of reasons, including that the majority of solicitors do not want their peers to see their explicit pricing (or even their pricing model); or allow online reviews of their services’.
Matthew Briggs, chief executive of the Law Superstore, said there is more to comparison websites than comparing prices.
‘The [CMA] report has taken into consideration our feedback, directly mentioning the Law Superstore, and we welcome its inclusion,’ he said.
‘Our experience is that many firms immediately, and sometimes solely, connect transparency to revealing the price of their services, when actually what we’re suggesting is far deeper than that.
‘We’ve created a tool that’s effectively a shop window to enable firms to showcase a wide range of attributes – each based on what consumers may make their buying decisions upon such as location, customer rating, what special accreditations the firm has and also price.’