Solicitors Struggle to Maintain a Positive Reputation
A recent survey from the Legal Services Consumer Panel revealed that trust in lawyers is falling. In 2016, only 42 percent of the general public said they could count on lawyers to tell the truth, down 5 percent from the 2015 survey. Among other professions, UK citizens rated doctors and teachers much higher, (80 percent and 69 percent respectively), but accountants also had a poor reputation.
The negative image associated with solicitors appears to be the result of a popular mind-set rather than unhappy customers. As well as the nearly 2,000 people surveyed generally, the study questioned 1,523 people who had worked with a solicitor or another legal professional in the last two years. Among these, 85 percent said they were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their provider. 77 percent said reputation was the biggest factor when choosing a provider, followed by price (69 percent) and location (68 percent). For almost half the responders, legal services were carried out on a fixed fee basis rather than an hourly rate. 61 percent believed they had received good value for money, while only 10 percent said the fees were too high.
Solicitors Need to Actively Build a Reputation
With popular culture casting lawyers in general as untrustworthy, active reputation management becomes more important than ever. Stories of lawyer misconduct easily capture the media’s attention, like the recent case of a London solicitor who admitted to falsifying documents to cover his firm’s inaction, or a civil restraint order issued against a solicitor who has repeatedly refused to accept the court’s decision in a property dispute. Yet the majority of lawyers who maintain ethical practices and treat their clients well don’t make the news.
Solicitors need to focus on getting their message out to potential clients at the point when they are in need of legal services and are ready to make a decision. Reputation is built through positive customer experiences and referrals, as well as advertising, content production and dissemination. A strong reserve of relatable online content that is available to potential customers as they are researching their options can help to show that many solicitors take their clients’ interests seriously and strive to build positive relationships.
Through no fault of its own its very difficult for any firm to maintain a perfect image online, public perception of the industry will not change overnight or possibly ever. Your reputation does not need to be perfect it just needs to be better than your competitors.
At Reputation Defender we work with law firms and individual solicitors to build a reputation that exceeds client expectation and helps to counteract the negative press that lawyers in general receive on a regular basis. Contact one of our experts or visit our website to learn how we can help your firm.