The Law Society has acted in anticipation of an expected call by the competition watchdog for lawyers to be more open about the price and quality of their services by publishing a toolkit on price and service transparency. The 12-page guide is designed to help solicitors to consider how to provide the most accessible and useful information to clients at each stage of their legal issue, whether online, face-to-face or in client letters.
Earlier this year an interim report the Competition and Markets Authority claimed that lack of information on pricing and service quality could undermine competition in legal services. This theme is expected to be repeated in the competition watchdog's final report, to be published shortly. However Chancery Lane says that while 48% of clients now pay for legal services via a fixed fee, rising to 68% in conveyancing, advertising prices is not possible in every situation.
Law Society president Robert Bourns said solicitors are already sharing 'ever more useful information' with clients. However as members have clients with vastly differing needs, knowledge, preferences and objectives 'there is no single right way of offering or providing legal services'.
The toolkit brings together information and resources to support solicitors to provide ever more accessible and relevant information to clients on the services they provide while also meeting their regulatory obligations, he said. 'Solicitors understand the importance of providing information at every stage of dealing, enabling consumers and clients to make informed decisions.'
The latest Lexis Nexis Bellwether report found that clients’ two highest priorities are that their lawyer has a clear understanding of their needs and that they are efficient. Research from YouGov found that reputation is the most important factor in choosing a legal services provider – but price, convenience and speed are also important to the final choice.
Bourns added: 'Many clients seek legal advice at moments of great anxiety and stress. This toolkit will help solicitors provide people with the best possible cost and service information to help reduce uncertainty and provide a transparent structure to their legal affairs.'