Trust plays an important role when consumers search for and choose a legal service provider, along with recommendations from family and friends, or other sources such as real estate agents (conveyancing).
This is one of the findings of research carried out for the Law Society of England and Wales by London Economics and YouGov.
The report, Consumer Behaviour Research, has been released by the Law Society to the Solicitors Regulatory Authority which is consulting on how better information on legal services can be provided to assist consumers. It includes a proposal that solicitor firms should be required to publish price and service information on their websites for certain areas of law relating to individuals and small business customers.
The research was carried out by forums, focus groups and interviews. It used behavioural research techniques to explore the consumer decision-making process when searching for will writing, divorce and conveyancing legal services.
The report says there are consumer behavioural biases of particular importance in the legal services market. These include:
Limited attention: Consumers may tend to focus on service features that stand out and capture their attention while ignoring important but less obvious or less salient information. "For example, up-front price may be given more weight in decision-making than other service features presented less prominently or on further detailed information pages".
Framing effects: The way information is presented to consumers can affect how information is accessed and searched for. This can have particular effects in the legal services market as consumers' awareness and understanding of different types of service providers is lw.
Probability weighting: Individuals are said to be poor statisticians as they tend to misinterpret probabilities.
Present bias: Individuals tend to be present biased, meaning that they focus excessively on the present and fail to appreciate events happening in the future.
Trust: Consumers may make decisions based on feelings of trust, whether towards a sale person or advisor, or towards a specific firm or brand. Trust plays a particular role in legal services due to the credence nature of the service.