The Law Society of Scotland is asking the legal profession and consumer bodies for their views on price transparency for legal services, and has also published a new guide on cloud computing for law firms.
The consultation, Price transparency – promoting consumer choice, aims to stimulate discussion within the legal profession and among other stakeholders, including consumer-interest groups, and is seeking views on the benefits and challenges of price transparency; whether a lack of openness is detrimental to the consumer and competition with the legal services market and the factors which may already be driving change.
Scottish solicitors are required to provide specific information to clients, including an estimate of the total fee or the basis upon which the fee will be charged, plus VAT and foreseeable outlays. However, there is no requirement for solicitors or firms to publish pricing information proactively and in advance of any client requests, although firms can promote their firms’ services as they see fit, including on pricing.
The consultation is in response to issues raised in a Competition and Markets Authority report, which has stated that the lack of accessible information on pricing by legal services providers is a ‘significant hurdle’ for consumers and that the lack of transparency weakens competition between providers and means that some consumers do not obtain legal advice when they would benefit from it. The CMA view was that increasing transparency of price, service and quality was essential for consumers to get a better deal.
Results from research, commissioned by the Law Society and carried out by Ipsos Mori, have suggested that about a fifth of consumers consider price to be an important factor when choosing a Scottish solicitor. Other UK-wide research has shown that most consumers and small businesses think that legal services are unaffordable, with even the perception of unaffordability potentially acting as a barrier to accessing justice.
Additionally, this month The Law Society of Scotland has published a new guide on cloud computing for law firms.
This provides an update on some of the more practical aspects of cloud computing and advises on what solicitors should ask a potential cloud provider to ensure it meets service delivery, security and compliance requirements. The guide also provides information on data protection and GDPR.
The guide is available to read and download from the Law Society of Scotland website: Cloud Computing Guide