The belief that review websites favor large law firms that can provide a large number of reviews is a misconception, said the president and co-founder of ReviewSolicitors.
Saleem Arif dismissed criticism that review websites put companies that pay bonuses at the top of the list, saying the law firm ranked first on their site if you were looking for ‘lawyers in London’. paid no premiums.
Speaking at last week’s Solicitors Regulation Authority compliance conference, Mr Arif said a law firm’s ranking on ReviewSolicitors was based not only on the number of reviews, but also on their date and number of stars.
He said if you searched his site for Oxford employment lawyers, a freelance lawyer tops the list with “exceptional reviews” – “well ahead” of the big firms.
If you typed in “lawyers in London”, the firm that comes first is not a “paying client” but is very good at collecting opinions.
Mr Arif said the link between those who pay premiums and a high ranking is often due to companies that pay more have an incentive to encourage customers to provide feedback.
Research by ReviewSolicitors found that 56% of complaints on the website were about service levels, 24% about price, especially when customers thought they had been misinformed, and only 14% about quality.
Vicky Hosking, managing partner of attorneys at Smith & Co in Ipswich, said her firm sent a link to ReviewSolicitors to clients “at an early stage” to reassure them, before asking them to leave a review at the end of the service .
She said processing reviews required “constant investment” for her company, which has 16 employees, but could result in what has become a “race to the top.”
Ms Hosking said that providing reviews “really helped” deal with complaints, but “most important of all” meant employees could take responsibility for managing customer relationships themselves.
“The process becomes ingrained in your culture. There are so many advantages. “
A poll in the Birmingham boardroom found that a majority of lawyers in person were against using comparison websites for legal services.
One criticism from the public was that law firms were listed alphabetically on review websites, a reminder of the days of the Yellow Pages and of companies called “AA Taxis.”
Mr Arif said companies that provide reviews are ranked by an algorithm. Companies that did not provide a review were more difficult to deal with and the question of their ranking was “something that we are reviewing at the moment”.
David Abbott, a member of the Consumers of Legal Services Panel, said he wanted to see a “flourishing” legal services industry.
“The key issue is not the price, but the value for money and the dissemination of information on quality and costs in the public domain. “