10 Top tips for turning Transparency into Positivity for your Practice
The SRA has now set out its agenda for the next three years as a regulator and it is clear that it feels that embedding the ‘Future of the Profession’ reforms of the previous three year cycle as its priority. These changes, culminating in the new ‘Standards and Regulations’ were, lest we forget, firmly driven by consumer survey and research. This is why ‘Transparency’ should have been taken seriously at the outset in December 2018 and should be taken even more seriously in 2020.
In August last year, the regulator was already suggesting solicitor firms should ideally look to apply the principles of Transparency beyond the compulsory core areas and last month they issued a timely reminder of why the rules were introduced.
“The aim is to help people, who currently struggle to shop around for legal services, more easily find the information they need to help them find the right legal help for them. The rules also include using our clickable logo, which became mandatory last November, which verifies that you are a law firm that we regulate and tells the public about the protections in place.”
Last spring when the SRA conducted its first random web-sweep of 500 firms, they found 17% had not done anything in light of the new rules and were fully in breach and whilst the extent is not yet known, as the results are yet to be published, a recent second similar exercise, worryingly has still found non-compliance:
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“The second of these has been completed and where we found non-compliance, we are considering potential enforcement action. More checks on firm websites will follow.”
As an interested external observer, I find this reaction to new rules designed to assist firms address issues raised by potential customers bizarre to say the least. Consumers will research before approaching a legal services provider, if they do not already have a relationship with one and the better you look compared to your competitors the greater your chance of winning new business. It is not ‘rocket science’ and importantly is not actually difficult.
From my own reading, research and experience of working closely with financial planning firms who partner with solicitors, as well as working with the SRA and indeed The Law Society, I am setting out what I believe are 10 top tips for turning ‘Transparency’ into a positive for your practice.
- Beyond Compulsion – Consider applying the principles of Transparency across all services you provide – To offer detailed information on price and a service in some areas and not others, to a consumer, might simply looks suspicious.
- Value – A decision will be made on value and not price so portraying everything involved in the likely cost is critical. Whilst fixed prices are not essential, be aware that SRA research does indicate consumers like them.
- Plain Language – Avoiding legal jargon, or if you must use it, explaining it, is fundamental to the audience. Detail each step of a process in an easy to understand way.
- Staff Biographies – Detailed biographies of your staff involved in the delivery of a service, and not just the solicitor but their team is important. These should include details of not only qualifications and experience but also some personal background. Such attention to detail helps personalise the experience and give confidence at outset.
- Write Blogs – Encourage your key staff to write the occasional blog, which is an extension of the biography in that it demonstrates approachability and competence to the researching consumer.
- Social Media – A profile demonstrating your firms and individual solicitors’ credentials and expertise linking back to your website could be a differentiator. Don’t underestimate the power of social media to bring people to your improved website.
- Video – Short, concise videos are an excellent way to explain the stages of a legal process. They can bring your services to life, whilst simultaneously introducing the solicitors that clients may be dealing with. These, as with blogs can be used on social media to attract visitors to your site.
- Accreditations and Awards – Be proud of your professional achievements and the quality of your firm and your people, as well as key accreditations such as SFE or Resolution, which demonstrate you require and attain high levels of professionalism.
- Testimonials – Do not be shy of having a testimonial section on your website. The confidence gained from the knowledge that you have contented clients in similar circumstances is beneficial.
- Holistic Service – So much of what solicitors do for clients, requires complimentary advice from fellow professionals. The modern client requires holistic problem solving and support, so ensure your website highlights that your firm will work closely with carefully selected colleagues, whether accountants or financial planners.
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