Change is happening in the legal sector, law firms need to pay heed and deliver a better client experience if they are to prosper

pushing thru resistance

Law firms have been getting a lot of attention in recent weeks. Whether it is about the level of service they provide to their clients, the number of complaints they receive or a lack of transparency in pricing. This has also been accompanied by news that deregulation of the legal services market in the UK has now come into force with the introduction of Alternative Business Structures (ABSs), which mean that any business can offer legal services, providing it’s granted a license by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and employs at least one qualified lawyer.

The following are some of the articles that I saw that talk about many of these changes (I’m sure there are others):

In many of the articles that I read there was is some interesting debate about the difference between a client and a customer (click on the blue links to see the difference according to the Oxford English Dictionary). Apparently, law firms don’t have customers they have clients and the nature of the client-lawyer relationship is such that the client cannot be king unlike many other businesses where the customer is king. It is my understanding that this is based on the asymmetry of understanding of the particularities, details and nuances of the law.

That may or may not be true. However, whatever the nature of the relationships that law firms have with the people or organisations that they do business with, one thing is clear: the market within which they operate is changing. Therefore, they will have to change if they are to survive and prosper.

But, it seems, many law forms are not changing. A recent report by CXINLAW called Customer Experience in Law found, following a secret shopping exercise, that:

“A staggering 45% would actively not engage the law firm or provider and would tell others not to engage them as well”

and

“72% of legal advisors scored zero or demonstrated little ability to empathise, build rapport or deal with objections sensitively”

In this world that we live in where we, as people or businesses, have a voice and huge amount of choice….

  • a failure to respond to requests for transparency in pricing;
  • a failure to build rapport with the people that you are dealing with; and
  • a failure to respond to market changes

is not acceptable and not a winning strategy for greater client spend, retention, loyalty, number of recommendations and future business growth.

Let me be clear. I believe we do need experts, experts in the law and great lawyers but we also need more modern legal firms, ones that are responsive to the needs of their clients, ones that deliver a better experience and are more responsive to changes in the market whether they like them or not.

Which law firms do you know that are embracing the changes and delivering a better, human and more responsive client experience?

Comments

  1. The difference between a client and a customer is an interesting one.

    I wonder who it matters to more, the service provider or the receiver?

    Self importance is a wonderful thing.

    James

    • Hi James,
      Given the fuss that some peeps in the legal sector have been making then I would argue the distinction is more important to the lawyers and that the ‘clients’ only care about 1, how they are treated 2. what they pay for the service of the lawyer and 3. what result they get

      Adrian

  2. Hello Adrian

    I thank you for bringing this to my attention – I did not know that these changes are afoot. The interesting things is what will happen? Opening up a regulated market place does have beneficiaries and it is not necessarily the person who needs and buys the service.

    The opening up is as much an invitation to charlatans as it is to the helpful and competent.

    Having said that, I never did understand why lawyers charge thousands of pounds for a will when I/you do all the work and there are will writing services which do it for several hundred pounds.

    Maz

    • Hi Maz,
      There is, like you say, always a risk with deregulation but if it forces change upon a generally non-responsive and non-transparent industry then that’s a good thing for clients.

      Adrian

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