Our Survey Said

April 12, 2010

In my role as Editor, I am often sent the results of surveys relevant to legal practice. I am not always amazed and impressed by the results – apparently people print out things they don’t really need (wow) and clients don’t like being kept waiting on the phone (what, not even when they can hear xylophones?). I would like to take this opportunity to draw readers’ attention to the services that I offer through one of my smaller consultancies. RBO is a research company which is specifically designed to offer insights into the sorts of issues that often involve organisations in expensive polls and deep analysis. You may well find that, by using RBO’s services, you save thousands of pounds. RBO’s charges rarely exceed £50. Moreover, RBO gives a clearer guide to results, eschewing figures and presenting answers in readily understandable terms – ‘lots of people’ and ‘you must be joking’ are the sorts of phrases that highlight the results of RBO’s research, making it highly accessible and relevant to most needs. Recent research projects have included asking my wife what she thinks and an in-depth analysis of the views of Stuart (who is an expert on consumer needs by virtue of running the Soho pub on the A4). RBO, or Researching the Bleeding Obvious, accepts queries by e-mail and money in brown envelopes.
The indulgent paragraph above was triggered by an e-mail from Epoq Legal revealing that a survey of over 2,000 people has shown that the majority of consumers expect good law firms to offer their services online in the next couple of years. The poll, carried out by YouGov, also revealed that 47% of consumers would be more likely to choose a law firm that offered the convenience of online access to legal services and documents over one that had no online service capability. Some 56% said they expected good law firms give customers the ability to use their services online in the next couple of years. Apparently consumers see online services as a chance to reduce their legal fees – 43% agreed that they would change law firms if an alternative firm offered a reduced fee in return for the consumer providing initial details about their matter online.

Grahame Cohen, CEO of Epoq Legal, commented that the research results show that ‘more and more consumers are expecting legal services to be delivered online. As the Internet has become an ever increasingly popular way for both consumers and businesses to access and buy a range of goods and services, the legal profession is finding it too needs to address client demand for convenient and affordable services.’ If Grahame, who knows more about the legal provision of online services than the whole of YouGov, Populous and Gallup combined, was any better informed as a result of the survey then I am the Queen of Sheba. If he really felt the need of an outside opinion, he should have slipped me a brown envelope and I could have come up with results very similar to those set out above.
But I really do not mean to give Epoq a hard time – the points they make about expectation and service are valid even if I cannot imagine that Richard Susskind is rapidly revising his work as a result of the survey. Those near the top of the maths class will have observed that, according to the figures above, 53% of consumers would be {i}no more likely{/i} to choose a law firm that offered the convenience of online access to legal services and documents over one that didn’t and might be tempted to shelve their firm’s expensive plans as a result. Unless you are retiring from the practice of law in the next two years, that would be an awful mistake. I think the most interesting aspect of the survey is that expectations are still quite low – perhaps many consumers still think that their lawyers need time to adjust after only just giving up their quill pens. The reality is that, once online legal services are a more obvious part of the landscape, the demand will escalate – most especially at the consumer level. Those law firms that rely on the consumer market but do not climb aboard this particular bandwagon will live to regret it – though they will not live particularly high on the hog. Those who rely on the business market have surely already swallowed the message, or have been swallowed themselves.