Firms exaggerating their capabilities risk damaging their reputation, chief says
The regulatory body for solicitors in England and Wales has cautioned law firms against making bold pronouncements about their quality standards online if they cannot back them up.
Tracy Vegro, executive director of strategy and innovation for the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), told the Law Society Gazette that practitioners making grand promises of their capabilities risk damaging their reputation if they are unable to meet such standards.
“If you are putting material on a website and talking about quality, and your firm is not living up to that quality, that is a risk you are taking,” she told audiences at the Law Society’s risk and compliance conference last week.
The SRA requires law firms to publish costs and service information on their website.
According to the Gazette, firms are becoming more transparent about the quality standards that clients can expect but there are also concerns about lawyers exaggerating about their capabilities and specialisation.
Vegro said that there had been issues recently about firms receiving negative reviews online because of these overstatements. She also urged firms to carefully assess their digital strategy to avoid reputational risks.
The SRA’s compliance rules have been in place since the end of 2018 and have resulted in better transparency, the regulator said.
Jackie Griffiths, SRA policy manager, revealed in the conference that more than two-thirds (68%) of firms are publishing the required information on price and service – a remarkable rise from 18% two years ago. However, she said that the proportion of firms at least trying to meet requirements – but not fully successful – was much higher than 68%.
Surveys have also found that more than a third of law firms have no idea on what information they should provide. The SRA is currently considering what extra support it can provide these firms.