What is it?
The SRA know people benefit from legal advice, but many do not get the legal help they need, cue the new risk of this year – lack of access to legal services.
So why are people not getting advice? You may not be surprised to hear that cost is the main barrier with 63% believing it is unaffordable. Other issues are lack of local provision, lack of information to help people compare providers and a lack of trust in professional advice.
Why is it important?
Only a third of people with a legal issue are obtaining legal advice, even my basic maths calculates that there is potential for the legal market to increase threefold! Additionally research indicates that people who have access to legal advice are happier with the outcome of their legal problem than those who do not.
The SRA have looked at the following ways of getting more people to access legal advice:
- Less red-tape by the SRA – it acknowledges that regulation costs time and money which is ultimately passed onto the client. They have therefore committed to reducing unnecessary regulation and bureaucracy
- Making the market more accessible – only 25% of people shopped around for help in 2015. Comparison websites for legal services could improve this and they are in the early stages.
- Encouraging innovation and flexibility – the ABS may only be the starting point here with discussions of whether solicitors can freely deliver services to the public outside of a regulated ‘firm’.
What does the COLP/COFA need to be mindful of?
- Think of ways you can provide service to more clients, for example fixed fee pricing
- Ask existing client base what the firm could do to improve its offering
- Are there practical ways you can be more accessible? E.g disabled access, seeing clients at different sites or satellite offices.
If the LSB gets its way, we could see firms forced to provide more information on their average prices and service standards (number of complaints, feedback scores etc) so that clients have more information about their solicitors before they instruct. Watch this space….
By Lisa Charles