What is the SRA's pilot for online reviews and why should law firms get involved?

Since February 2021, the SRA has been running a pilot of online reviews to encourage law firms to start collecting and showcasing client reviews online. Online review systems (including ReviewSolicitors) already exist, but the SRA is keen to make sure that law firms know how to engage with them properly and, ultimately, that reviews are easily accessible to clients.

It's clear from the SRA's published guidance that transparency is key to an improved customer experience. On its pilot scheme web page, the SRA states that:

'Proactively publishing information on key indicators of service quality, for example customer reviews, not only helps the public when they are looking for a legal services provider but should also help your firm win more business.

Our research has regularly shown that while price is an important factor people consider when they are looking for legal support, a bigger consideration is the potential quality of the service they will receive.

However, finding reliable information on quality can be challenging, especially independent information which enables direct comparisons to be made between potential providers.

We are looking to help make more information of this type readily-available within the legal sector, whether it is published directly by a law firm themselves,  or hosted by third parties such as comparison websites.'

As a partner in the pilot, ReviewSolicitors is keen to help law firms of all shapes and sizes begin their review collection journey to engage with the SRA’s guidance to be collecting reviews from clients. In our view, joining the SRA’s pilot scheme means that your firm won’t get left behind. The pace at which increasing numbers of instructions to law firms are digital-first is unrelenting. The SRA's pilot scheme has drawn in a large number of early participants – expanding from the original 20 firms to include over 70 at present. 

That demand is likely to be in no small part due to the effects that the pandemic has had on firms' ability to meet people face to face. We firmly believe that the move to a digital-first appraisal of a firm's capabilities is permanent: what consumers do when researching a movie or a restaurant, they are also applying with their approach to appointing a law firm.

Tracy Vegro, Executive Director of Strategy and Innovation at the SRA says:

"It's great to see how law firms are increasingly embracing online reviews. Not only does this help the public access legal service more easily, but it also helps the firms build their digital presence and compete for and win new business.

“Through our pilot, and beyond, we are seeing an increasing appetite for firms wanting to learn more about the opportunities that exist and how best they can engage with online reviews. 

“As well as driving up the number of firms actively engaging with review websites, our pilot is also helping both the firms and comparison websites to work ever more effectively together – and this will benefit everyone moving forward. 

“And to help them do this we have published a range of support materials explaining why and how firms can engage with both online reviews generally, and comparison websites in particular."

Michael Hanney, founder of ReviewSolicitors says:

"We'd rate the work the SRA are doing as five out of five stars. Their pilot is intended to benefit the clients of law firms, the firms themselves and the industry as a whole. Our experience working with the team on this pilot has been very positive: they listen and give feedback and are keen to make the right decisions for everyone involved.

"The legal industry is different to other industries and there are some challenges that a legal only specific review site can address. That's why we have designed a platform that works for all whilst being fair to both clients and law firms alike. 

As a direct result of the SRA’s pilot for reviews and our engagement with the Legal Services Board, we have taken action to address law firms’ concerns about negative reviews. A new feature and major leap forward was launched yesterday, where firms can request that a challenging review is delayed from publication for 48 hours whilst they attempt to resolve it. We call it the ‘client care protocol’ and essentially, it's a pause button that allows firms' client care systems to kick in and try and resolve issues. We're really proud of this development as it means that firms can safely tackle challenging feedback and hopefully resolve it quickly too."

You can read more about ReviewSolicitors’ new ‘client care protocol’ here

ReviewSolicitors are working closely with the SRA in their pilot for online reviews. Should your firm wish to get involved, please click here.