The Legal Services Panel today reports that the proportion of consumers comparing legal service providers remains unchanged year on year. Efforts to persuade legal consumers to shop around for their lawyer appear to be making little headway. The percentage is even lower for areas such as personal injury and probate.
There has been a recent increase in comparison websites where firms can be assessed on quality and cost but despite this legal service users don't appear to be using them to their full potential. The consumer panel says they remain 'unused or opaque' and the need for change is as great as ever.
Sarah Chambers, chair of the Legal Services Consumer Panel, said: 'It remains a concern that seven out of 10 consumers do not shop around in the legal services market. 'This needs to change if the vision of empowered consumers stimulating competition is to be achieved.'
Regulators, including the Solicitors Regulation Authority want to improve transparency across the market and intend to force providers to give details of their costs on their websites.
The consumer panel's annual tracker survey also shows a further decline in the availability of legal aid, with just 2% of respondents saying this funding was an option for them (down from 5% last year).
Almost nine in ten legal services consumers were satisfied with the outcome of their matters and 84% were satisfied with their legal service. The panel also notes that 'consumer take-up of fixed fees is on the rise, with 52% of people choosing firms offering this arrangement (up from 37% for solicitors last year).'
The most important factor when choosing a legal service provider s reputation (78%) followed by price (72%) and lastly specialism (70%).
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