Tag Archives: Survey

SRA Survey Shows Positive Signs for Personal Injury Sector

A survey by the Solicitors Regulation Authority has revealed that the UK’s personal injury sector is doing well despite the impact of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO). The survey gathered information and opinions from a wide range of relevant sources, including over 250 legal firms operating in the sector, and identified a number of positives.

As well as hundreds of legal firms, the survey questioned the judiciary, regulators, representative bodies, insurance companies, and trade associations. The findings of this survey were recently published, and while there were some areas of potential improvement identified the SRA’s research has suggested that, on the whole, the industry is doing well.

The personal injury sector is in many ways a broad sector. One of the most prevalent examples is claiming compensation for accidents at work, or indeed any injury or illness, that was the result of an employer taking insufficient measures to provide a safe working environment. However, it also includes just about any case where one person has been physically injured and it was the fault of a third party, such as accidents caused by careless driving, or cases where a business has not maintained a safe environment for customers.

In such cases, the injured party is entitled to a financial settlement from the negligent party, both to reimburse any financial costs associated with the injury and to act as compensation. A large part of the personal injury sector is made up of firms that specialise in these claims, or even specific kinds of injury claim such as workplace accidents or traffic accidents.

It was expected to be one of the sectors that was particularly likely to be hit by the 2012 act, specifically by the removal of certain kinds of fees, but the survey suggests that personal injury firms have adapted well to the changing landscape. Overall, the SRA concluded from its research that the sector is “generally working well” in a post-LASPO legal landscape.

The report also suggested that the number of frivolous and outright fraudulent claims is decreasing, though this still remains a concern. This decrease is welcome news for firms operating in the sector as, unlike most other areas of legal practice, fees are often only charged on the success of a claim and as a percentage of the settlement awarded.

The report also suggested that the relationship between legal firms and other relevant companies such as insurers is growing more positive. Among the concerns raised was the possibility that some firms may be diversifying into new areas of personal injury practice without the desirable amount of expertise.

Clients Satisfied but not Trusting of Lawyers

Lack of Trust

Lack of TrustAccording to a recent report from legal watchdog the Legal Services Consumer Panel, the UK’s legal client satisfaction rates are currently high. In spite of this, however, the level of trust that the public places in lawyers is falling.

The watchdog’s tracker survey was carried out between February and March this year in association with prominent survey specialists YouGov. Questions were asked of 1,864 people, of which the majority – 1,523 – had made use of legal services in the past two years.

The survey revealed that 85% of those who had made use of professional legal services reported that they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the service they had received from their lawyers, backing up strong satisfaction figures from other recent surveys.  61% said that the service from their chosen provider represented good value for money, with only 10% saying that they received poor value for the price they paid.

On the other hand, and despite the majority of people being happy with the service they received from their lawyers, the level of trust that people place in legal professionals is low and falling. Only 42% of those who responded to the survey said that they trusted lawyers to be truthful. Last year, this figure was 47%. Over a fifth of people, 22% said that they actively did not trust lawyers to be truthful.

This does not compare favourably with the trust figures for other professions. It places lawyers on a par with accountants, but in a less positive position compared to teachers, who were trusted to tell the truth by 69% of the general public, and doctors, who have the trust of 80%. Women were more likely than men to trust lawyers, the survey showed, and white people were more trusting of lawyers than people from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds.

The survey also examined the factors that typically go into a person’s choice of legal provider. While the majority of respondents stated that legal services had provided them with good value for money, this was not the most important deciding factor. That title goes to the reputation of the provider in question, which more than three quarter (77%) stated was the biggest consideration.

Price was nonetheless important, with 69% of the survey’s respondents stating that this was an important factor. Almost as highly-valued was the location of the provider, with 68% of people saying that a convenient location was important to them when choosing which firm they would go to.

Research Highlights Stress Problem in Legal Profession

Recent research from Lawyer 2B has identified huge amounts of stress among legal professionals factors behind the problem include long hours, poor managerial support, and difficulty creating an effective work-life balance.

In recent times, legal firms have made efforts to improve the experience of staff when it comes to stress. Programmes have been introduced by many firms to help maintain the mental health of employees. Hagan Lovells pledged to carry out a review of its policies around the management of employee stress after an IP partner committed suicide. This resulted in the firm’s counselling service being moved on-site. Clifford Chance are another example, having announced a firm-wide rollout of its trainee anti-stress programme in April. Despite such moves, however, the research suggests that stress continues to be a major issue for professionals in the industry, particularly young lawyers.

The survey was carried out in April and looked at a number of factors to get a picture of the state of the industry. Among the areas examined were a number of key stress-inducing factors, working hours, perceived employer commitment to providing a work-life balance to employees, and the stress-busting initiatives that firms put into place.

One interesting and, for some, unexpected finding of the survey was that stress is not necessarily linked to long hours. However, many respondents found that high volumes of work were a key factor at causing stress, and long hours were certainly prevalent within the industry. 36% of respondents reported a typical working week of 46-55 hours and 20% said they worked between 56 and 65 hours. A further 11%, mostly working in a corporate, finance or litigation practice, reported working 66 hours or more in a week, and 2% exceeded 75 hours.  The longest hours are worked by Magic Circle lawyers across all seniority levels.

Nonetheless, support from the firm for which they work was a far more central factor than working hours. The worst-performing firms in this regard were generally those from the US. Of those lawyers working for a US firm in London that responded to the survey, 70% felt that their management did not make any real effort to encourage a work-life balance.

Given the various recent moves by major city firms to combat stress, the discovery may come as a disappointment to some. The problem could potentially be one of awareness. According to the findings of the survey, a mere 17% of lawyers are aware of their firms’ stress management initiatives.