73% of conveyancers do not believe client loyalty will protect them from threats posed by 'Tesco law'

 

Press release - September 2010

Nearly three quarters (73%) of conveyancers say client loyalty will not protect them from ‘Tesco Law’ in the wake of impending reforms to the Legal Services Act, according to a poll of solicitors by UK-based find-a-solicitor service, Caven.*

This is in stark contrast to commercial lawyers, nearly two thirds of whom (63%) do believe client loyalty will protect them from Alternative Business Structures (ABSs). Like conveyancers, practitioners of family law are also sceptical, with 56% of family lawyers saying client loyalty is unlikely to protect them from losing business to ABSs.

Commercial lawyers are perhaps more confident because of the time their clients have been with them: 57% said that two-thirds of their clients have been with them for more than five years, compared to just 20% of conveyancers and 11% of family lawyers saying that two-thirds of their clients have been with them for that length of time.

Family lawyers appear to be particularly exposed. 55% said at least six-out-of-ten of their clients have been with them less than 12 months, compared to just 20% of conveyancers’ clients and 7% of commercial lawyers’ clients.
And how loyal do solicitors think their clients are? On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the most loyal, 22% of family law practitioners believe their clients are a 5, compared to 14% of commercial lawyers and just 7% of conveyancers. 14% of family lawyers gave their clients a score of 2 or less on the loyalty scale.

Dan Watkins, director, find-a-solicitor service, Caven, comments: “Conveyancers are clearly the least convinced that client loyalty will protect them from the big changes coming. This almost certainly reflects the more standardised nature of their work, which very rarely requires a face-to-face meeting and can therefore be more easily replicated by new entrants into the market.

“It’s probably not surprising that commercial lawyers are the most confident about their clients’ loyalty. They feel that the specialist, personal nature of much of the work they carry out will help them retain their clients as the landscape changes in the years ahead. Their work tends to be personal rather than process-driven and they clearly believe this will act as a buffer when the ABSs arrive. The fact that the majority of their clients have been with them for more than five years will also, they believe, stand them in good stead.

“Family lawyers are the most confident about their clients’ loyalty, with nearly a quarter considering their clients to be very loyal. However, more than half of them say the majority of their clients have been with them for less than a year, reflecting the low level of repeat business compared to other areas of law. This reliance on new, rather than repeat, business means that they are right be cautious about the extent to which customer loyalty will protect them from the competitive challenge that ABS’s will bring.”

*The poll of 317 UK-based solicitors was carried out in September 2010.

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Tamara Smith
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