Law Society criticises SRA for “one-dimensional” approach

Price cannot always be put above quality, skill and peace of mind when choosing a legal provider, the Law Society has said.

Law Society President Joe Egan was responding to findings published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

In an argument over price transparency, the SRA said consumers would be able to make a better choice if solicitors were to publish their prices. It found that 71 per cent of people researched options for at least an hour before selecting a conveyancing solicitor, but just 15 per cent were able to obtain pricing information they wanted without having to make a specific request first.

But the Law Society has warned that research has already revealed significant differences in consumer behaviour and priorities when making decisions about different areas of the law. For example, consumers may be more inclined to pick by price when it comes to conveyancing, but the same might not be true for other areas of the law.

“On the basis of our own research across different areas of law I would advise the SRA not to extrapolate from one area of law to draw conclusions across the whole marketplace,” said Mr Egan.

“In addition, people’s priorities and decisions change as their legal situation becomes more complex – the experience of the solicitor, their skill-set and regulatory protections were valued over price the more complex an issue became.”

He added: “We want to help people understand their legal issue and the most appropriate solution for them before they decide what price to pay. You don’t get that from most websites – you do get it from talking to a solicitor.”

Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: “At the moment, people with a legal problem are struggling to find the information they need to make a good choice of provider. This research suggests more clearly signposted information on price could help people.”