A record percentage of clients are shopping around before engaging a lawyer, according to the latest survey by the consumer watchdog. But the Legal Services Consumer Panel says its research suggests consumers are still 'struggling with pricing information'. 

Despite the requirement for firms to publish price data on their websites, two thirds of clients found the information by talking to the provider. 

Some clients, 'in vulnerable circumstances, are unclear about what a service will costs until they receive their bill', the panel alleges today. 'For example, 25% of consumers using legal services for family matters find out the cost of the service when they receive the bill. This is not acceptable for a modern service.'

Despite this, 84% of respondents were satisfied with the legal service they obtained. 

The information comes from the panel's ninth annual 'tracker survey'. Research was carried out by YouGov on people who had used legal services in the past two years. 

Among the findings are: 

  • 30% of respondents shopped around, up from  23% in 2012.
  • 46% reported that they do not understand or do not know how to make a complaint.
  • 64% found out the price through talking to the provider rather than from a website. 

Sarah Chambers, panel chair, said: 'I am pleased to see that more consumers are shopping around and raising their complaints formally with providers when things go wrong. These developments will improve competition and raise standards in the market. We commend regulators for continuing to push the transparency agenda, but we are disappointed to see that consumers are still struggling to find adequate information on price and services.

'We strongly encourage the regulators to continue to reinforce the current measures and monitor them closely to ensure that they translate to better outcomes.'