SRA helps consumers become ‘solicitor-savvy’

The SRA is stepping up its game in relation to the advice it is giving consumers of legal services.

Over the past year the regulator has taken a number of initiatives designed to help clients understand the legal minefield, following a survey carried out which revealed that the public has little knowledge of their rights when consulting a lawyer (see our report from February 2011 Consumer attitudes towards the purchase of legal services)

The measures feature a host of information on the SRA’s consumer section, including:

  • online videos describing different scenarios e.g. how to spot a bogus solicitor and when to contact the Legal Ombudsman
  • a downloadable leaflet What to expect when you use a solicitor including a shortened, simplified version and translations into the ten most frequently used languages
  • frequently refreshed alerts providing information in the public’s interest e.g. bogus firms, high profile disciplinary actions such as closures and prosecutions
  • a legal jargon-buster which will help consumers understand the legal process and make good choices when selecting a legal services provider

Following a recent joint survey undertaken with Action on Hearing Loss and the Legal Services Consumer Panel, Legal Choices, Silent Process, which revealed that many lawyers do not understand deaf clients’ needs, the SRA is working with a number of bodies representing disabled people to find out how services could be improved to increase accessibility.

Mehrunnisa Lalani, SRA Director for Inclusion, said: "Consumers are at the heart of the Legal Services Act 2007, and we are working to ensure that clients understand what they can, and cannot expect, when they need legal support.

"There has been a lot of mystique over the years about what consumers should expect from legal services. We want to change this and are using collaborative approaches with organisations such as the third sector to get information across to consumers and get feedback on their experiences.

"We are continuing to improve our information for consumers, so that they will be in a better position to make choices when they need to."  

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