UK regulator contemplates making online review of law firms mandatory
The Legal Service Board is expected to crystalize its position on forcing law firms to engage with online review sites next month
The Legal Service Board (LSB) of the UK is in the midst of finalising a drastic proposal of making online review and comparison mandatory for law firms. The idea is to herald market transparency and provide customers with a considered choice.
The proposal was discussed on 8 June and if approved, it will become mandatory for law firms to sign up with market review websites.
The LSB is the oversight legal regulator for England and Wales. The regulator debated the findings of a market report on quality indicators. The report had suggested that regulatory actions might be required to catalyse change in the legal market in the 8 June meeting.
"Our policy around quality indicators will be a key component of our upcoming statement of policy on consumer engagement. We will expect regulatory bodies to make use of a variety of levers to effect change, including mandatory requirements on providers as required," the paper says.
The regulator has said that it will clarify its position on quality indicators and publish a response document along with the draft policy statement in July.
So far, the LSB has been merely encouraging firms to voluntarily incorporate comparison and review sites into their strategies.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is presently testing a pilot scheme to bring together law firms and review site providers in a bid to arm the public with more information on the quality of legal services available online.
A research report published suggests that even though the number of those using online review and comparison sites is still low with only 10 per cent of people making use of it, its use is witnessing a surge. It stood at four per cent in 2019 and six per cent in 2020.
It is widely felt that time has come for law firms to take online reviews seriously since it's a good idea that cannot be ignored for long. It is also being suggested that the law firm should welcome it before it is forced upon them.
The only challenge before the LSB could be individual lawyers many of whom do not own any website. They survive in the business through word of mouth and bespoke service.