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Access to Justice for all? What we conclude from four years of consumer research or How I bought a house without understanding what conveyancing was Alex Roy. The conclusion?. We focus too much on the need to change consumers’ knowledge, trust or income

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Access to Justice for all?What we conclude from four years of consumer researchorHow I bought a house without understanding what conveyancing wasAlex Roy

the conclusion
The conclusion?
  • We focus too much on the need to change consumers’ knowledge, trust or income
  • The problem is perhaps more about services
  • Access to justice is held back by a relatively homogenous provision of legal services, this fails to offer a range of:
      • Services (delivery channels/products or packages)
      • Prices (level/structuring)
      • Quality levels
  • Consumers profess a lack of trust and understanding but, when faced by a legal problem, most prove capable of finding a solution that meets their needs
  • Behavioural economics questions the benefit of public legal education and can explain how consumers manage to navigate a complex market
  • Market liberalisation could encourage providers to compete for consumers and support increased access to justice
  • Regulation must provide the regulatory floor of protections that consumers need while removing barriers to competition
the conclusion the profession
The conclusion – the profession?

“Sadly this just seems to indicate that the LSB don't appreciate the current market... solicitors are businesses. There is a need to provide any service at the appropriate cost and advice on prevention needs to be appropriately priced. There appears to be little incentive or opportunity to explore or become involved in such a market without demonstrating a clearer benefit to the business involved.

The research tends to suggest a sensible approach [is undertaken] by the legal profession not to undersell itself and to have regard to the actual cost involved in the provision of legal services.”

Online comment

some stats
Some stats

49% of consumers have had a judiciable problem in the past three years.

37% of individuals handled their legal issue without help.

52% of small businesses handled their legal issue without help.

83% of consumers said service either met or exceeded expectations.

The value of the small business legal market could be up to £100bn.

8% of consumers negotiated over their legal fees.

One third of consumers who were dis-satisfied raised the issue, but didn’t complain.

77% of consumers who negotiated managed to get their fees reduced.

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Fewer than half trust lawyers…

LSCP Tracker survey 2012 – % who would trust to tell the truth

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What drives choice?

System 1 thinking is likely to dominate choices in situations where the individual does not have the capacity, knowledge or time to make more analytical decisions.

The nature of legal services is that providers will have more knowledge than customers.

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System 1 thinking

  • What difference does it make if outcomes are presented in terms of gains (e.g. PI) and losses (e.g. Divorce) - Prospect theory
  • If you highlight the positive benefits of a service rather than the chance of avoiding a negative outcome what happens? - Framing
  • People will use the same lawyer even if the legal problem is entirely different - Representativeness heuristic
  • Legal services are often perceived as expensive even where the individual has no previous experience of using legal services - Anchoring and adjustment
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Vulnerable consumers face greater challenges

“I decided to start my own business…. I was in contact with three or four [solicitors]. The first one I contacted replied; so the second time I explained that I was Deaf. No reply since then. So I contacted the solicitor’s receptionist and she said she needed to talk to them before getting back to me. I was being ignored.”

“Yes, they added post-it notes next to legal jargons to explain in simpler terms. It was a good solicitor, she would write, this means what ...or you would need to do what? This was a good solicitor but the one I had for car crash solicitor is not good.”

“We went to a solicitor [company name]… big in [local town] and they had a lady there who dealt with learning difficulty and disability… and I was so, you know, really pleased about that - I couldn’t believe it.”

“I didn’t realise that I could get advice through citizens advice, I thought it was just there for other things like…tenancy agreements and stuff like that…it wasn’t until me brother said ‘we’ve got to get this sorted (name)’ you know, and he said we’ll go to citizens advice bureau and see what they say.”

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Will consumers change providers?

  • Consumers are more satisfied with the service they receive and consider they get better value for money if they shop around
  • Levels of shopping around were unchanged in 2013 at 22%
  • Choice tools are still little used by consumers – 1% use a price comparison website, 2% a customer feedback website and 4% an accreditation scheme
  • Reputation, location, specialist knowledge and speed of delivery all matter more than price in factors influencing people’s choice of lawyer
  • The most common route to finding a provider is to go back to a lawyer used before – this leads to the highest levels of service satisfactions

Consumer Panel Tracking Survey 2013 – Briefing note 2: Shopping for legal services

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Challenges to improve access?

  • Remove barriers to innovation by those within sector
  • Remove barriers to competition from outside existing providers whether competing directly in future within regulation or outside of reserved activities
  • Encourage market to develop transparent choice tools
  • Reduce regulation where unnecessary or ineffective
  • Objective? Securing lower prices, better quality and a greater range of services/products
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The Research

All LSB Research can be found at: https://research.legalservicesboard.org.uk/

Specific projects included in this presentation:

  • 2012 individual consumer needs report
  • 2013 Small business legal needs benchmarking survey
  • 2013 Consumer use of legal services
  • 2013 Lessons from behavioural economics
  • 2011 Will writing research
  • 2013 LSCP Tracking Briefing 2