Regulated firms must meet the minimum standards set for them by their regulators, so consumers can expect them to be competent, to behave ethically and to offer a set level of redress if anything goes wrong.
Like any service, the quality provided may vary between different law firms. Some firms may have expertise in specific areas of law. Certain services may be offered in a highly personalised way, while others may be provided via a standardised “no frills” delivery model.
Some firms publish reviews, or testimonials, about the services they provide on their own website. There are also websites that host reviews about different types of lawyers.
Reviews are people’s own opinions and can be influenced by personal feelings. By looking at several reviews, you can gain a more balanced picture of a firm.
No business gets it right all the time, so one negative review does not mean a firm will not provide a quality service. If there are several negative reviews, you might want to think carefully about whether a firm is right for you.
It is important to read any responses from firms to customer reviews, to understand the firm’s point of view and how they deal with customer dissatisfaction. Things can go wrong, so a firm that is proactive in putting it right will be good to deal with.
You might be used to reading reviews when choosing a holiday, or restaurant, but should be mindful that it can be harder for a person to know if a lawyer has provided good technical work.
Some legal services may end with one side winning and the other losing. You should consider that reviews might be influenced by the way a case ends and not the professional’s ability or service provided.
It is sensible to use a review as part of a package of things you look at when choosing a lawyer.
Bringing comparison and review sites together with law firms
There is a legal regulator pilot scheme which brings together law firms and comparison website providers. The aim is to increase the number of people leaving and reading customer reviews about law firms, in particular regarding house buying and employment law.
The comparison and review websites taking part collect and publish customer reviews. Some of these sites will publish reviews on any law firm, others only publish reviews about law firms who have signed up to their services. Some of the sites provide other comparison information about and services provided. The sites are:
We have given these providers a voluntary code of conduct, setting out the standards we expect of these sites to ensure they are independent, transparent and fair to both consumers and the firms they provide information about.
Leaving a review
People use law firms at crucial moments in their lives. As well as getting value-for-money, good customer service is important. Finding out whether a firm’s customers have had a good experience can be difficult.
Online reviews can help potential customers. A one-off review may not be so helpful. Every firm can occasionally provide an outstanding or poor service. Yet if more customers leave reviews, everyone gets a more reliable picture which can help consumers more easily pick out firms who consistently provide good service.
This is why we want to encourage more people to use and leave reviews on these sites.
How to leave a helpful review
It is recognised that most people do not understand technical legal work and they are not expected to review this. People want to know about a firm’s customer service and whether the person leaving the review would be happy to use them again. Everyone can comment on that.
It is helpful to think about some of these questions when writing a review.
- Were the firm empathetic and interested in your case?
- Did you feel listened to?
- Did the firm provide you with the information and advice you needed in a way you could understand?
- Were the firm easy to contact?
- Were you kept informed about what was happening?
- Were any documents they produced accurate and well written?
- Would you recommend the firm to a friend?
It is important that customers leave fair and honest reviews. Just like any business, law firms can take action if a customer says something about them publicly which is not true.
A firm does not like a review
No one likes to find out that their client is unhappy with the service they provided and that potential clients are reading about it. Review sites allow firms to respond and leave their point of view in response to a review about them on the site.
However, firms should not be forceful or pressure you into removing a review. If a you feel a firm has behaved in this way, you are encouraged to speak to the review site and contact the firm’s regulator.
Complaints to firms and reviews
All firms must have a complaints procedure, and if you are unhappy, they should make a complaint to the firm so it can try to resolve the problem.
Whether or not you complain to a firm, you can still leave a review. If you have not complained directly to the firm, it may ask you, in a response to your review, to contact the firm. It can then understand your concerns and try to resolve them.
Regulators encourage firms to resolve customer dissatisfaction, but it is up to clients to get in touch with the firm first so they can do this.
You may ask someone you trust, such as a friend, family member or employer, to recommend a lawyer or firm. If a legal adviser is suggested, you can also search for reviews about them.
Organisations, such as estate agents, might recommend a lawyer to you. Some organisations are paid by law firms to refer consumers to them. It makes sense to ask if a referral fee will be paid and how much it is.
While recommendations can be useful, you should think about all the other suggestions for choosing a lawyer alongside a recommendation. The recommended lawyer may have carried out very different legal work for the person recommending them than you need, and you should take this into consideration.