Law firms must avoid exaggerating their capabilities otherwise they are in danger of reputational risk.
The SRA has highlighted that legal service providers should make sure that they are not overzealous with the promises they make on their websites regarding the level of service they provide to clients when marketing to potential consumers.
The danger is that boasting online about the standards of service a potential consumer could receive may increase reputational risk and could potentially mislead consumers if the service provided does not live up to what was promised online.
Tracy Vegro, executive director of strategy and innovation at the Solicitors Regulation Authority said that the importance of this marries into the transparency rules that law firms are now needing to adhere to. Legal services providers are required to publish the costs for their services on their websites and therefore an extension of that transparency is to also be realistic and accurate about the standard of service consumers could expect to receive, and not over-exaggerated or mislead them in terms of making grand promises such as claiming to have “expert knowledge” and “wealth of experience” which may be beyond the capabilities of the legal staff.
The SRA is considering providing support to legal services providers regarding this and what information they should be providing; however, it would be prudent for legal service providers to carry out this assessment to avoid the risk of misleading consumers as the SRA is already monitoring firms who are not succeeding in providing the service they promise on their website.
The reason for this becoming an important aspect and extension of transparency is because consumers are now heavily relying on the information available online as well as reviews and recommendations as the pandemic has changed the way consumers seek legal services. Therefore, the information that consumers interpret must be representative of the firm’s abilities so they are able to make an informed decision.
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