The Law Society commissioned YouGov’s qualitative research team to help them understand consumers’ approach to finding legal support. The findings formed part of the Society’s response to the Solicitors Regulation Authority consultation: “Looking to the future: better information, more choice.”
Method and results
YouGov’s qualitative research team worked with participants who had searched – or were searching - for a legal service provider within the last 12 months. The group contained a mix of demographics from various locations and included vulnerable people such as those on benefits and with limited or no access to the internet.
The research comprised behavioural online forums to understand individual behaviours as well as online focus groups, and face-to-face interviews. The methodology used a deliberative approach, where the interviews and focus groups took participants through the key stages of the consumer decision-making framework of access, assess, and act.
The findings showed that overall consumers’ knowledge of legal services regulation is low.
- There is a need to take steps to ensure consumers are informed about the identity and function of the regulators so they can understand the difference between regulated and unregulated firms in terms of performance monitoring, quality standards, provider suitability and consumer protections.
- Online search is important when trusted recommendations are not available. Search engines and visits to individual provider sites, followed by phone calls and/or face-to-face visits is the most common route.
- Advertised price of legal services is also given considerable weight in consumer decision-making, with less weight given to smaller print on what is included in the price as well as details on protections and/ or code of conduct. This is particularly the case with consumers in vulnerable circumstances and those in lower social grades.
“The qualitative behavioural research undertaken by YouGov has proved very useful to The Law Society. YouGov were also able to triangulate the results against quantitative results from separate surveys undertaken by the Society to reinforce the findings. The results were able to show the importance of the Society’s public legal education programmes. It also highlighted the difficulties that consumers have in assessing the non-price elements of legal work.”
- Law Society Research Unit
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