12 Jul, 2011
The general public trusts solicitors with the most precious and valuable things in their lives, often at times when they are vulnerable and under great stress. Yet often they choose a legal service provider after little research or on blind trust.
Not everyone is so trusting of solicitors however; worrying findings from a recent YouGov survey by the Legal Services Consumer Panel which questioned 1,277 members of the general public and 1,114 adults who had used legal services within the last two years, found only 47 per cent of people in England and Wales claimed they trusted lawyers to tell the truth.
The Legal Services Consumer Panel in their consumer impact report identified an ‘imbalance of power between consumers and lawyers’. Its findings state that competition within Legal Services is generally weak as the vast majority of consumers do not shop around. One of the reasons given was that many people find it difficult to compare solicitors or believe their choice is restricted. The report also found that even when unhappy with the service a solicitor had given them, one third of consumers do nothing about it. Despite this, the SRA received 6258 allegations of misconduct in 2010 and in the year up to March 2010 the Solicitor’s Disciplinary Tribunal received 273 applications to prosecute solicitors which resulted in 172 fines and 84 solicitors being struck off.
A growing number of people are turning to the independent ‘trip adviser’ style ratings website solicitor.info which displays reviews left by clients of solicitors. Dave Sprake, who created www.solicitor.info, states: “We wanted to create a website that highlighted the best-rated solicitors, not the ones with bad reviews or solicitors who could spend the most in advertising.”
Ratings websites and customer reviews may well be a boon to consumers looking for quality services, especially as the upcoming so called ‘Tesco law’ deregulation of legal services has raised fears that a mentality of ‘pack ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap’ towards legal services and products may result. The internet and social networking has made it possible for the masses to hear individual ‘word of mouth’ recommendations and complaints and, at the end of the day, this can only be a good thing for someone searching for a good solicitor.