Law firm Hutchinson Thomas, which has offices in Swansea and Neath, is one of the first law firms in Wales to join a pilot project conceived by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) designed to standardise and improve quality indicators individuals might use to choose a legal provider.
The exercise, which is being run jointly by the SRA, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC), CILEx Regulation and the Bar Standards Board (BSB), has brought together website providers and firms to encourage clients to post reviews about the services they received.
Hutchinson Thomas is one of more than 70 law firms that have already signed up to engage with a number of providers, to look at how reviews could add value to other comparison data, such as price.
There are a number of general and legal sector specific websites which already publish customer reviews and other information on legal service providers. The SRA also offers an information sharing service that allows such websites to access and publish already publicly available regulatory information on firms it regulates.
Now, in partnership with the CLC and CILEx Regulation, SRA has launched a pilot scheme involving both law firms and comparison website providers which aims to increase the amount of easily accessible, comparable information on the quality of legal service providers which is available to the public.
It has also developed a voluntary code of conduct for comparison websites taking part in the pilot activities. Though not compulsory, this code sets out the standards expected of these sites to ensure that they are independent, transparent and fair to both consumers and legal service providers.
Darren Davies, Partner, Hutchinson Thomas, said:
“We were delighted to be approached to participate in the pilot phase of this extremely innovative scheme that has the potential to revolutionise the way clients select legal services in the UK. We see this as having the potential to engender real change and create a fairer and more even playing field where it is possible for customers to select a legal provider based on true indicators of quality and expertise, which can be difficult at the moment.”
Commenting on the pilot, Tracy Vegro, SRA Executive Director, Strategy and Innovation, added:
“We were obviously confident of seeing the project produce meaningful results that would help develop meaningful quality indicators, but we did not expect to see such a strong level of engagement initially, and to see other, far-reaching effects emerging too. We originally said the pilot would run for six months, but we want to expand it to make sure we capture all the great work that firms are doing.
“As well as the marketing boost the pilot has given to law firms, many have also seen other benefits or view it as a catalyst for change. For example, some are reporting that they are incorporating customer feedback into individual staff performance reviews, adding them to the agenda at senior management meetings and using them as part of their rewards programmes. Positive feedback has also helped to boost staff morale.”