26 May Calling on law firms
Do law firms fulfil the needs of their clients? If you offer a wide range of services then the temptation would be to answer in the affirmative. However, a survey conducted for the Law Society and Legal Services Board would seem to indicate that in a number of cases clients are simply not making the most of the services which law firms can provide.
With over 8000 respondents, the survey looked at the way in which more than 16,000 legal issues were addressed. Overall, formal legal advice was only obtained in less than a third of all the cases reviewed. Whilst concern over cost played a significant role in preventing people from calling on law firms, so too did a general lack of awareness of the ways in which legal advice could help in certain circumstances. These included health, bullying and neighbourhood issues. Those under the age of 35 were identified as being the least likely to call on a law firm for advice.
The findings indicate that the legal profession simply isn’t doing enough to publicise the range of services which it provides. Equally worrying was the apparent lack of awareness about the importance of ensuring that an adviser is properly regulated. Qualifications were checked in less than half of the cases examined with a significant number of respondents simply assuming that advisers had the right qualifications. Commenting on this finding the President of the Law Society, Jonathan Smithers, said “The most trained and qualified providers are the most regulated while those who may have no formal legal training may be unregulated. This can be confusing and can result in people not making informed decisions about the legal services they buy.”
The results of the survey are concerning, particularly in the interconnected world in which we now live and work. It is generally accepted practice for legal firms to work alongside other businesses in order to provide a holistic service for their clients. For example, Elemental CoSec works with and alongside law firms, handling incorporation and company secretarial matters on behalf of their clients. This not only helps to ensure that clients receive the specialist incorporation advice which they require, it also frees up law firms to concentrate on providing a great all round service for their clients.
But if clients aren’t generally aware of the range of services which are available to them directly through legal practices, they are also likely to be missing out on receiving specialist advice in other areas. This is an area which has to be addressed. As Sir Michael Pitt, Chairman of the LSB commented it is hoped that the results of this survey will “help us all contribute to a legal services market that delivers better outcomes.”