Has your firm spent the last few months pouring over its application for an ABS licence? If so, the time to announce it to the press is probably looming.
It is an announcement which will most likely go through myriad hands before finally being set free and for the in-house press office; marketing manager or the external legal PR agency in charge, this is the time to push for a clear message about why alternative business structures should matter to clients and consumers.
For the trade media, Alternative Business Structures are big news. The legal services sector faces a major challenge as it awaits the introduction of the referral fee ban and speculation is rife with very few commentators willing or able to predict what the future may hold with any real confidence.
Therefore, providing clarity to business clients and consumers of legal services what this could mean for them is one of the most important communication challenges that law firms will face in 2013 and beyond.
For a quick picture of how the topic is regarded by the mainstream consciousness, type in ‘ABS law firms’ on The Telegraph’s website and the most relevant recent article to emerge today dated back to 2009 headlined “High street shops will sell legal services within two years …”
Although being able to provide legal services with non-lawyer involvement may be an earth-shattering development for a sector that has otherwise embraced change at a snail’s pace, mainstream journalists outside the legal and insurance sphere are embracing the topic with negligible enthusiasm.
If the legal sector wants to capture the attention of the wider press and, through it, the minds of consumers, the whole issue of ABS-licenses has to be made relevant outside the legal arena. Issues of regulation and compliance have little chance of battling with the mainstream news agenda.
What matters more, as our Legal Services Survey highlighted back in 2011, is personal persuasion and how consumers will seek out value for money. Our survey asked 500 consumers to highlight the most persuasive factor when deciding where to go for legal service. 43% opted for a personal recommendation, 17% demanded an up-front pricing structure with just 14% quoting ‘experience’ as the motive behind their decision. There is no reason to believe that much, if anything at all, has changed in this regard since those figures were compiled 18 months ago.
So, returning to the boardroom where the ABS license press release is being mulled over; this is where good legal PR comes into its own. If at least part of the objective with the press release is to raise the profile of the firm with consumers or business clients, then at least some of it has to set out why this matters to them. Then, and only then, will we begin to witness a pique in interest from mainstream journalists writing about the stuff that really matters to the non-lawyers amongst us.
With a strong network of media contacts and in-depth knowledge of professional services, Christina advises a range of businesses and law firms on media and business development initiatives.