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Could increased transparency be the key to securing more clients?

Posted by: Laurence Simons 09/01/17
A year-long investigation in the UK’s legal services marketplace undertaken by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has concluded that competition among legal providers is “not working well” particularly for individual consumers and small businesses. The CMA has partnered with eight legal profession regulators to create a list of new measures designed to make it easier for legal service consumers to ensure they are making informed decisions when sourcing legal counsel.

According to the CMA’s report obtaining the right service at good value can be challenging as, there is not enough information available on price, quality and service to help those who need legal support to make a well informed decision. They can also struggle to find enough information to help them identify their legal need in the first place.

Discussions with key stakeholders, including eight frontline legal regulators, led to the CMA establishing a series of key recommendations. The CMA will now require legal service providers to display detailed information on prices, services, redress and regulatory status in order to help potential customers make well-versed purchases. According to the CMA’s investigation only 17% of firms publish pricing information for particular services online.

The report also suggests measures to facilitate the development of comparison sites and other intermediaries to allow legal purchasers to compare providers in one place by making data already collected by regulators available. At present only 22% of people compare the services on offer before appointing a lawyer.

The CMA found that whilst the current system is not a major barrier to competition at present, it may not be sustainable in the long term. As such the CMA has recommended that frontline regulators work with consumer and small business groups to deliver improved transparency on price and quality as well as clearer guidance on buying legal services.

While some firms may be slightly reluctant to publicise their prices, there is clearly a need for greater transparency within the profession and those who fail to make changes are likely to lose out in the long term.
Tagged In: Law firms
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