SRA Expectations In Regards To Price Transparency
The day has finally arrived. Price Transparency is now a regulatory reality across the majority of the legal sector. Whilst some remain confused and anxious about the changes, the SRA hope that they will mean an early Christmas present for both the consumer and legal firm.
On Tuesday evening, the SRA hosted a Transparency Rules Workshop, two days prior to the deadline. Hoping that the legal sector will become as transparent with their price and service offerings as the fourteenth-floor glass wall panorama of Birmingham enjoyed by the group, the SRA representative pacified many concerns about price transparency within the room.
The SRA were quick to dispel the myth that they are putting more pressure on firms to produce fixed fee pricing. Instead, they insisted that pricing was made at the firm’s discretion; fixed or hourly prices were welcomed by the SRA.
However, the need to make the pricing very obvious on a website was stressed by Richard Williams, Policy Associate at the SRA. He offered an anecdote of a firm that had asked the SRA if they could replicate the landing page of a rival firm that had made changes to their site in order to seemingly comply with new regulations.
Here, the pricing information was at the very bottom of the landing page. The consumer would need to scroll through a lot of content to find the information or link. Although the information was on the first page, it was not easily accessible to the consumer and would therefore not comply with the regulations.
Williams emphasised that compliance does not mean that you must place pricing on the opening page; if this was the case then the firm from the anecdote would comply with pricing regulations. Compliance, in terms of pricing, is about ensuring that the consumer can easily find the information they need to make an informed decision.
One member discussed that the probate fees on their website were clearly displayed on the second page that was accessed via an obvious link from the landing page. The SRA were happy with this as it is not an onerous chore to find this information and a clear effort had been made by the firm to consider the consumer’s journey.
Those displaying hourly fees discussed the idea of embedding prices within the ‘Meet Our Team’ page. Here the consumer could review the professional, their experience and expertise and this may tether the link between service and price more closely.
The feeling from the SRA is that how prices are displayed can be individual to the firm; the only caveat being that they must be easily accessible and clearly signposted.
Although price and service transparency are upon us, the SRA pointed out that this can be a collaborative process. There was a reciprocal understanding that some elements of this process will be outside of a firm’s immediate control; third party web design may delay changes for example. As long as there is clear evidence that steps are being taken to comply, the SRA will work alongside law firms to get it right.
What changes have you made in regards to transparent pricing? How difficult were the changes to implement?