The CMA challenge – is it just about price?

Understanding the real CMA challenge

Readers will be aware that the Competition and Markets Authority has called on Regulators to improve the price and service transparency offered to clients by law firms. They will also be aware that both the SRA and the CLC have responded with detailed calls for conveyancers to comply with a set of new requirements by December this year.



Anecdotally, a majority of law firms are only now starting to think about how they intend to respond. A snap survey by the Bold Legal Group showed a broad spread of preparedness amongst their members ranging from outright denial through to feverish website development.


Is it all about price?

As ever, the market is innovating to help solve these challenges. There is one very obvious point of contention and that is the central point around price transparency. It’s been the lodestone for critics of the initiative and for a sizeable section of the profession it’s the most objectionable element of the proposals.

Firms are required to provide an estimate of the cost of a conveyance typically using some form of calculator populated by the website visitor. Great attention is focussed on the detail supporting an estimate and much debate is centred on how firms ensure that there’s a level playing field. What to include? What to treat as exceptional?

This is an important debate and one that would be helped with more guidance from the Regulators – or perhaps even some form of kitemark, but there is an equally important issue that seems to have been drowned out by the mechanics of the estimate and that’s the service transparency.

Personally, I think it’s an unproductive rant to rail against the inclusion of an estimate because it will mean visitors judge a firm on price alone when ignoring the fact the CMA is also encouraging firms to be similarly transparent about their service.


Win on service

Again personally, I think that demonstrable high levels of service and client satisfaction will always trump price especially when the client is unsure how to gauge the quality of a service they are typically unfamiliar with.

So, the big trick that everyone seems to be missing in this emerging new world is how to make price transparency subordinate to service transparency – or at the very least give a rich service context to a price estimate.


Review, review, review

The answer is to embrace the world of third-party reviews. Seen by some as a threat, reviews are nothing more than an electronic manifestation of a conveyancer’s oldest and most revered marketing tool – word of mouth (although in this new incarnation with a right of reply). They instil confidence and drive business.

We are working with the largest and the fastest growing review platform Trustpilot who have developed a keen interest in the legal market, to bring forward a solution that whilst it includes an estimate tool, places reviews and service transparency front and centre in the minds of your prospective clients.


Learn more about Pitsford Consulting here

Pitsford Consulting Ltd was founded in 2013 by Richard Hinton who has spent 25 years working in strategic and business development roles in the conveyancing industry. First with a 12-year stint as Business Development Director of Shoosmiths solicitors then as Head of Residential Property for LexisNexis Visualfiles. Most recently Richard was Head of Product Management and Business Strategy for DIIG, the owners of Searchflow, the conveyancing data business.

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