The new Legal Services Act introduced by Government has been described as the legal equivalent of London’s “Big Bang” in 1986, with the deregulation of the financial service markets and the banking system. This brings significant change to the legal industry, as it is the first attempt to bring the entire legal services market under one regulatory framework, departing significantly from the previous structure of the profession. This is achieved through allowing current non-law businesses such as banking, insurance, supermarkets and financial services to offer legal services.

The move has been welcomed by some on the basis of improving competition and service levels within the market – however there are some potential pitfalls that you, the consumer, should be aware of when deciding who to approach for your legal needs.

“Off the Shelf” Legal Advice

A big concern for consumers is that legal services provided by new providers, such as supermarkets, may lead to generic “off the shelf” legal advice, lacking independent thought, which is cost driven and does not take into account the specific needs and wishes of the individual client. The nature of legal work means that everything should be tailored to the individuals’ personal situation, and should take into account many different factors in order to get the maximum benefits from the circumstances.

“Lack of Personal Service”

Another point consumers should be aware of when researching potential providers is that some may offer an initial face-to-face appointment, but after that meeting, any additional advice will be provided by telephone and email only, due to the cost benefits of this approach. Some do not even offer an informal face-to-face meeting.  It is worth noting that a new major YouGov survey of over 2000 people found that consumers of probate and estate administration services are significantly more satisfied when they receive their advice face to face, rather than by e-mail, post or telephone.