How SMEs really feel about ‘bl**dy lawyers’

When it comes to working with lawyers – there’s a phrase that it is often uttered: “Bl**dy Lawyers”.

But one legal firm in the North West is switching things up.

HM Legal recently remodelled the way they deliver legal services in the North West – and in spring launched a whole new vision, as well as adopting a new and simpler name.


Well, HM Legal found that most SMEs shared similar experiences when it came to working with legal firms that have since become cemented in this common phrase.

In fact, new research released today revealed that when SMEs were asked how they feel or would feel when working with a lawyer, the phrase ‘over-charged’ came out as the most popular, cited by 32 per cent of those surveyed – highlighting serious customer dissatisfaction.

And 63 per cent said their business would need to be in ‘serious legal difficulty’ before contacting a lawyer.

Happily, the findings weren’t all bad, with 26 per cent saying they feel or would feel ‘supported’ when working with a lawyer, and 25 per cent said they felt ‘reassured’.

Richard Burnett, commercial director at HM Legal, said: “We decided to commission this research to find out what our potential clients really think about legal services – and the findings are not surprising. We know that many SMEs feel under-serviced and dissatisfied by the service they receive when it comes to legal matters – that’s why we’ve repositioned our business to offer something different. We’re on a journey at HM Legal to do law differently.

“At HM Legal we offer transparency and a focus on offering quality service. We don’t hide behind legal jargon and we offer fixed fees, meaning there are no hidden surprises. You could say we offer ‘Legal-eez’.

“Despite the negative elements of the research, what is great to see is there is still confidence in the ability of lawyers, which comes across loud and clear in this research.”

The research was conducted by YouGov, which polled 1,000 SMEs with up to 250 employees, from across the Great Britain.

When it came to describing a lawyer in general, the top three positive phrases were, intelligent (42%), smart (29%), and savvy (21%). But the 3rd most popular description overall was money-grabbing (25%). Other popular phrases were equally polarised, with ‘tricky’, ‘fair’ and ‘honest’ being used by 13 per cent of those polled and ‘unscrupulous’ and ‘truthful’ rated by 11 per cent.

The findings were also mixed when it came to how businesses felt when working with a lawyer, with 19 per cent feeling ‘confident’ but 21 per cent saying they felt ‘cautious’.

When asked which fictional legal character they felt best represented the lawyer stereotype, the most popular answer was Atticus Finch, the wise and well-respected father and lawyer in Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. Of those surveyed this character was chosen the most frequently (6 per cent).

When asked where they would go for legal advice for their business, 61 per cent of respondents said they would consult a local law firm. Despite this, the research did reveal that 63 per cent would need their business to be in ‘serious legal difficulty’ before contacting a lawyer.

“It’s a major concern for us that people in businesses may be so turned off by working with a legal services provider that they wait until they are in serious legal difficulty before consulting a legal expert,” said Burnett. “We know that by involving a legal expert early in a potential legal situation, SMEs can usually save time and money resolving the issue.

“That’s why at HM Legal we have been working hard to provide a better service to our clients, to reassure them that we are there to help, and not line our pockets. We are focused on offering a transparent service to our clients to allay any fears of using legal services and add real value to their business. In fact, our service is designed to proactively protect businesses and business owners.

“Comments from our clients include statements such as; ‘They provide a one stop shop. The team was approachable and confident, taking the anxiety of legal issues away completely’, which we think demonstrates the value our service led approach adds – on top of quality legal advice from our experienced teams.”

This spring HM Legal launched its Six New Standards:
Wow Service
No Chase Pledge
Fixed Fees
One Central Point of Contact
Plain English Promise
Service Level Guarantee

The standards underline the desire of HM Legal to reassure clients that they come first – they offer ‘Legal-eez’ – from fixed fee options to one point of contact to help with all concerns.

“The results of this survey do confirm why our Six New Standards are so vital,” added Burnett. “We want clients to know we’re their partner and offer a service level that you’d expect from a partner. We know what it’s like to run an SME and we want to make their life easier and more successful. I tell the team, instead of “bl**dy lawyers” we want our clients to think of us as the ‘bl**dy brilliant lawyers.’”

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