One of the reasons that law firms maintain an online presence is to attract new business. But how will customers find your firm? Well, one way is to make sure you are listed in all the right directories. This month, we check out some of the main law firm listings.
Law Society of Scotland
What better place to start? The Society’s “Find a Solicitor” function takes the Google approach to searching and keeps the whole thing very simple. Are you looking for a lawyer or a law firm? Do you want one that’s nearby or one that specialises in a given field? No problem.
It’s very quick and easy to use. It also has certain inherent advantages over the competition. It is the definitive list of solicitors and likely to be most up-to-date too. It is the only solicitor search function I know of that allows you to search by accredited specialism. It also allows you to sift for firms which practise in particular subject areas.
One quibble is that the results page doesn’t reveal all the information you might need, inviting instead a further click which opens a pop-up window. This is a bit frustrating (especially if your browser has pop-ups blocked), and an unnecessary barrier between the user and the information they want.
If you start with this site, you may not need to go any further.
Scottish Legal Aid Board
I really like this feature and well done to SLAB for creating it. One of the key questions that potential clients ask is “Do they do legal aid?” and here’s a search which answers only “Yes”! I find it particularly useful for referring people on to other firms. Just type in the client’s postcode and the area of law and – hey presto – a list of registered legal aid firms who can do the type of work in question, sorted in order of the distance between the client’s front door and theirs.
Once you’ve found a firm, as this is Multimap, you can then use all the functionality like viewing an aerial photograph of the firm’s offices or (more usefully, perhaps) printing directions or sending the contact details to your mobile phone.
Also – brilliantly – the results give you opening hours and accessibility information (e.g. is the office suitable for a wheelchair? Are interpreters available? etc).
Venables, Scottish Law, Absolvitor
These three sites, while lacking the bells and whistles of the others, are good examples of amateur efforts which are still oft-used and hold links to a good number of firms. They have varying degrees of functionality and are more likely to contain a few broken links, but each may be worth a shot – if only to check that your own firm’s details are up-to-date. See, respectively, www.venables.co.uk/ firmscota.htm; www.scottishlaw.org.uk/lawfirms; and www.absolvitor.com/ lawfirms (in which I declare an interest).
This is one of a new breed of solicitor search sites which aims (or claims) not only to list law firms but also to provide a measure of quality control. It’s not quite Which? for lawyers, but it’s heading in that general direction. In reviewing this site and the next, I posed as a potential legal customer with a thorny disability discrimination case and waited for a response.
TakeLegalAdvice has garnered a great deal of press coverage (most of it favourable) and appears to be regulated as a claims handler by the Ministry of Justice. It has separate sections for personal and business users, and the firms registered are vetted by the site.
Having typed in details of my fictional case, my location and contact details, I sat back and waited for the deluge of offers to take up my cause. I had imagined that I might then be able to opt for the lowest bidder, or most specialist. I did receive one response (seeking more information), from a firm known better for its personal injury work. However, the system had produced a prompt and straightforward response to my online enquiry from a local firm – so far so good.
Operating a similar premise, Quality Solicitors goes further, by promising the solicitor with exactly the right skills for your case. It also runs an e-bay style ratings system under which firms are struck off if they don’t provide a good enough service. On completing the enquiry form with my fictional case late one night, I received a telephone call the very next morning from what I understand is the only Scottish firm currently signed up to the system. And very pleasant they were too, even when I was forced to confess that I wasn’t actually looking for a solicitor at all.
This is probably one of those ideas which requires a critical mass of firms to be participating in order to provide the maximum benefit. Until that time, the mechanics of the site are working perfectly.
In this issue
- Spanish executry law – cross border issues
- The Scottish Parliament’s Emergency Bill procedure
- One year on
- Unequal before the law (1)
- Ian Smart's inauguration speech
- Your new First XI
- Dangerous loophole
- Unlocking the rule of law
- Our guiding light
- A hit for the conference
- Of chairs, trains and escalators
- Unequal before the law
- Matters of the mind
- New game, new rules
- Advance on all fronts
- Making openness work
- The First XI
- Society parleys with the OFT
- Professional Practice Committee
- Committees: the unsung heroes
- Find a client?
- Platform for success?
- Ask Ash
- Constant foe
- Killer question
- A time to be inventive
- Deep pockets required?
- Win some, lose some
- New client - new problems
- Website review
- Book reviews
- A business view