Quality claims: is this one a dog?

Close readers of my blog (that’ll be none of you) will have realised I am broadly supportive of QS-style innovation in the marketing and organisation of legal service, so I take something of an interest in new entrants into the increasingly crowded market that is lawyer client intermediation. Today fido4u started following me on twitter, and their tweets link through to “yourlaw4u” . So I followed the bear (sorry, I mean dog) and took a look.

Once one gets past the seemingly obligatory animated identity (having had Pixar-office girl and a talking wig, I suppose I should have expected a dog). Their home page makes this claim which excited my interest:

“At Your Law 4 U we know that finding a solicitor you can rely on in your time of need is difficult. Just choosing one can be a daunting task, that’s why we have done all the hard work for you.

“All our solicitors have vast experience in their specific fields of expertise which ensures you get the best advice possible at the best price. In most cases you have nothing to pay until your problem is resolved to your complete satisfaction and there will never be any hidden fee’s popping out of the woodwork.

“We work for you and are always loyal to you.”

As we say round here, “there’s lovely.” Now the problem I have with this is that it rather beggars belief. All their solicitors are vastly experienced? Every single solicitor working for them, or for their members firms are vastly experienced? Even if it is the latter, every firm is vastly experienced? In all the fields within which it works. Let’s have some details, I thought. The nature of the relationship between fido and his solicitors is not clear on my perusal of the site, though an MoJ registration suggest it must be a claims management company. Furthermore, the website does not provide – on my quick reconnoitre at least – any information against which one can guess at let alone test the experience claims. There is no way for an interested consumer to start verifying these claims of expertise without (it seems) getting in contact with Fido’s pals (and it seems also they may need to ‘become a member’: anyone else thinking gym membership here?). I am whistling for Fido in a minute and perhaps they will be willing to provide a comment to answer my concerns.

As I have been saying for some time, the legal services market needs to take quality seriously if we are not simply to have competition on price and (it seems) the avatar that is ‘customer services’. Not that service is unimportant, but isn’t there is a need for clear and honest signals about experience and/or specialisation?

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About Richard Moorhead

Director of the Centre for Ethics and Law and Professor of Law and Professional Ethics at the Faculty of Laws, University College London with an interest in teaching and research on the legal ethics, the professions, legal aid, access to justice and the courts.
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9 Responses to Quality claims: is this one a dog?

  1. I’m more concerned by the content of their tweets, well, one tweet in particular actually:

    “Grandparents will now receive legal rights to see their grandkids after a divorce”

    My understanding of the family law, incredibly limited though it is (I’ll stress the adjective in this sentence: incredibly), is that grandparents currently have no rights to see their grandchildren following divorce. The use of the word “now” in this tweet therefore seems wrong and the blog article to which it links also seems to indicate that this is settled law. My understanding (again, I’m stressing my own limitation here) is that this is something which is currently under consultation and may (or some version of it) be adopted at a later date…

    I wonder if one of Fido’s panel solicitors, were they to make such a claim directly, wouldn’t find themselves in some difficulty. However, does it really assist those panel solicitors in any way if the company who refers the claim makes an inaccurate representation of the law to the individual seeking assistance? Surely, it is just setting the client up for disappointment…

  2. I’m glad to see that all of those posts are now gone… apart from that one on 19th April which seems to have been missed!

  3. Fido4U says:

    Hi Richard,

    Thanks for bringing up a great point. We are faced every day with competitors who look to generate legal enquires and then pass them on to any old firm. We have spent a considerable amount of time putting together a panel of providers who quite simply do what they promise and have done so for many years.”. I know Fido is not a sophisticated brand mark, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s supposed to signify our loyalty to our client’s needs. If you have any further questions, or would like more information about joining our panel, please send us an email. We would be happy to chat.

  4. Richard Moorhead says:

    Thanks.

    “We have spent a considerable amount of time putting together a panel of providers who quite simply do what they promise and have done so for many years,” is somewhat different from saying they ALL have VAST amounts of experience. Could you let us know what criteria your panel members have met and how you have assessed their ‘delivery on promises’ and how you have assessed their ability to do that going back “many years”? What evidence have you used to make these judgments?

  5. Fido4U says:

    Hi Richard,

    The managing director of YourLaw4U Ltd has been involved with the legal services sector for over 11 years. In his previous position he dealt with over 800 solicitors per year.

    The solicitors that have been chosen to represent the company and its consumers are all governed by the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) and are contracted to perform under strict service level agreements, ensuring our consumers receive the best possible service.

    If you have any further questions or would like to discuss this further we would be happy to arrange a call with our Managing Director.

    Regards

    Yourlaw4U

    • Richard Moorhead says:

      I’d be very happy for your MD answer the questions in my post and comment that you have not answered and to set out in reasonable detail what the terms of the service level agreements are that guarantee quality. You’ve made your vast experience claims on the internet so it seems only fair you defend them here too.

    • Richard says:

      Given that all solicitors are regulated by the SRA, that is not a way of distinguishing good and experienced ones in particular fields from the rest.

      The service level agreement may or may not be an effective way of assuring quality. It depends on what it requires, what the sanction is for not complying, and how effectively it is monitored and enforced.

  6. Patrick says:

    I’m sure I’m not the only one following this discussion with interest

    I was (not really) surprised that the Fido website doesn’t identify the firms involved, especially now it talks about having ‘chosen’ certain solicitors. This implies selection, and if there is selection then there must have been criteria. I’d be curious to know what that criteria might have been. Not to knock Fido unfairly of course but, I think we need to separate ‘ad-talk’ and brand-spin from saying what the score is

    On another note, in terms of establishing a brand it must be a positive (?) when potential clients on Twitter notice that they are followed by such esteemed legal twitterati….

    Here’s waiting for the next instalment!

  7. John Flood says:

    Presumably they have carried out some kind of rating exercise…well, maybe. What we need is a transparent ranking by consumers of their experiences with legal services providers that takes account of communication, service delivery, value for money, etc. None of these do that yet.

    As much as lawyers will hate being ranked (although the Legal 500 does it and lawyers spend much time ensuring those rankings are good) they will have to get used to it. Perhaps when our defamation laws are attenuated we can start doing this properly.

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