Trust in lawyers has fallen as consumers continue to place reputation above all when selecting one, the legal watchdog reports today.

But contentment among people who have used legal services is high, with 85% of people saying they were satisfied or very satisfied with the service.

The Legal Services Consumer Panel’s tracker survey reveals 42% of the general public trust lawyers to tell the truth – a fall from 47% in 2015. That figure puts lawyers at the same level as accountants for trust, but well behind teachers (69%) and doctors (80%). Almost a quarter of people (22%) do not trust lawyers to tell the truth.

Trust in lawyers is higher among women than men, while those from a white background are more likely to trust lawyers than those from black and ethnic minority backgrounds.

The panel’s survey was carried out in February and March this year in conjunction with polling company YouGov, and consisted of two parts: 1,864 people surveyed generally and 1,523 who have used legal services in the past two years.

When asked what factors were important in choosing a legal services provider, reputation (77%) was the biggest driver, with price (69%) and convenience of location (68%) also highly valued.

Of those who had used a lawyer, just a quarter shopped around for a provider, with 68% making no effort to compare providers.

Almost half (48%) of legal work was carried out on a fixed fee basis, with hourly rates deciding cost in just 7% of cases.

In total, 61% of consumers felt they had enjoyed good value for money, with just 10% saying the service was poor value for money.

Elisabeth Davies, chair of the panel (pictured), said regulators now have a duty to ensure consumers have more information about their legal services providers. ‘Regulators should be doing more to better equip consumers with the information they need about costs and quality to make informed choices,’ she said.

More than one in three respondents believe businesses providing all types of legal service should be regulated. 

In terms of awareness, 73% of respondents said they had heard of the Law Society, 68% of had heard of the Legal Ombudsman, 51% had heard of the Bar Council, 21% had heard of the Solicitors Regulation Authority and 6% had heard of the Legal Services Consumer Panel.