Jon Robins had a recent piece in the New Law Journal discussing how deregulation will affect the legal services market.
This examined how consumers choose between providers of legal services and the concept of quality. The article quoted from some comments taken from a recent report by the Legal Services Consumer Panel (Quality in Legal Services, November 2010) including:
Consumer B: “They’re all solicitors and qualified to a similar level, and so it doesn’t matter whether they’re charging you £200 or £800.”
Consumer C: “We put ourselves in their hands and because they’re qualified and they’re professionals, we just hope and presume that they’re going to give us the right information and do the job for us.”
The article commented:
As the researchers noted the search for quality did not strongly influence consumers’ choice of lawyer. “This is bad for competition as it means that good-quality firms are not differentiating themselves from poorer quality rivals,” they concluded; adding that it could lead to “an excessive focus on reducing price” to a level where quality was compromised.
In relation to the issue of various quality marks, Robins concluded:
But if—as consumers B and C imply—people assume all lawyers are competent, then why would they look for quality marks anyway?
Similar problems seem to exist when choosing amongst law costs draftsmen. It is understandable that members of the public might struggle to distinguish between the good, bad and indifferent in the event they need to instruct a costs draftsman. However, surely solicitors and insurers are much more sophisticated when making this decision. Well, all those who work in the legal costs field will be well aware that quality is in short supply and some firms and individuals are much more successful than any measure of “quality” would seem to justify.
How should a solicitor or insurer measure “quality” in a law costs draftsman or Costs Lawyer?