Competing and communicating: rebuilding solicitor reputations – locally.

on 12 June, 2013 Email this Email this - Print this Print this

There are too many solicitors (and nearly 11,000 law firms) chasing too little work up against aggressive new competition from High Street brand names with huge marketing budgets seeking to do to the legal service market what they did to the financial services sector.

The larger law firms in the personal injury market are also starting to flex their muscles through strategic collaborations and a commitment to online marketing. CoreLegal founder member Jon Hepburn from The Fedora Consultancy takes a look at the situation for the high street law firm.

The one-off transactional nature of accident claims and regulatory changes makes for a gloomy picture for High Street personal injury law firms. Pay-per-click and SEO campaigns to attract PI accident claims are now beyond the financial reach of most high street law firms.  And the new fee structure will probably result in many smaller firms not being able to make a living from accident claim work alone – leaving it to the new competition/ABSs and the insurance companies.

Service offerings from the likes of the Co-op have been observed as potential ‘game changers’ – their recent TV advertising campaign has been well received. They also have the advantage of a being a trusted brand that is already well-known, regularly used, convenient, has a membership of millions to cross-sell services too. All in all, other than it’s banking services, a great success on the high street.

To compete in future High Street law firms in the personal injury sector will need to learn to think like retailers and manage their reputation like a hotel or restaurant. I agree that purchasing legal advice is a different proposition to a night’s sleep in a hotel but reputation and trust are vital, especially for consumers seeking advice about significant decisions or potentially life-changing issues.

Active reputation management of the whole law firm’s brand and the individual reputation of its fee earners will become vital. Law firms review sites such as Legallybetter.co.uk (there are many other comparison sites as well) have empowered consumers with the experience of others and recommendations here are hugely influential.

Take note of the following for your law firm

  • The new providers will find ways of handling more complex claims, possibly using web-based video calls and other technology. So can your law firm.
  • They already offer convenience, fixed fees and other benefits that will appeal to many consumers. So can your law firm.
  • Fixed fees, clearly explained processes and indications of expected outcomes all help. Facetime and Skype are already here and widely used. So can your law firm.
  • The ability of any business to show value is key. So can your law firm.

As mentioned above perceptions of value are not just about price. Are you clear about what makes your law firm different? With ABS’s now a reality and rapidly increasing in number, smaller law firms considering this strategic option will undoubtedly find that their value to others as an investment opportunity will depend on their ability to attract future business.

The value of your firm’s goodwill is inextricably linked to the quality of your client database and your firm’s professional reputation.

As we all know legal advice is often a distress purchase so people need reassurance and to know what they are buying, hence the importance of recommendations and an informative profile of fee earners your firm’s website.

If you grow prize-winning vegetables, ride an old motorbike or like base-jumping then let potential clients know by giving some information for them to engage with you.

Engagement and dialogue is vital, it’s what social media is all about. Remember that 10 times as many people will share a bad experience with their followers than the one client or customer that shares a good experience.

To conclude this post, a look at a consumer survey comparing solicitors with their claims management company counterparts may be of interest. One of its findings was that ‘traditional advisors seem better at offering an overall good standard of service and settlement. They may lack the “touchy feely” strengths of the claims management companies but seem to offer a better balance of services, leading to a good overall settlement of the case’. Source: YouGov SixthSense Personal Injury Survey (June 2012)

If you’d like to discuss any of the issues above that are affecting your law firm  please email jon@fedoraconsultancy.co.uk 


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Topics: Business development · Law Firm marketing · Marketing planning · Professional opinion
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