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Beyond Price: What Makes Clients Choose a Solicitor in 2024?

The survey asked participants what plans they had for 2024, their biggest challenges and what’s most important to them when choosing a solicitor.

Challenges for 2024

For our respondents, 2024 presents a mixed-bag of navig atinga complex landscape. Financial hurdles loom large - the rising costs of living, inflation, and interest rates are still squeezing budgets. Many mentioned “affording non-essential things like holidays”, “surviving increased prices”, “food shortages” as their biggest challenges of the year, whilst others cut to the chase by just stating “staying alive”!

The reality of those tough choices isn’t lost on anyone, even those not currently facing them. Empathy for people in less fortunate positions was a common thread: “Luckily we are in a very comfortable position, but we feel deeply for all that are struggling to keep their heads above water.”

Job insecurity, health concerns, and relationship complexities add layers of difficulty, but the human spirit of resilience and hope shines through: “raising a newborn” “get garden sorted to enjoy a nice summer (hopefully)”, “nurturing our new business”, “driving test”, “new house” and “2nd year of our new business” were some of the more positive anticipations.

Grant Sanders , Partner at StephenRimmer LLP, says of the survey findings:

The outlookfor 2024 reflects a complex landscape where individuals grapple with financial strains such as inflation and rising living costs. For many, the challenges of affording essentials like food and staying afloat in the face of price hikes are their main goal.  Job insecurity, health concerns, and relationship complexities add further layers ofdifficulty. However, amidst the turmoil, there's a resilient spirit shining through. People expressed hopes for positive milestones like nurturing new businesses, raising families, and enjoying simple pleasures like tending to gardens or moving into new homes. It's a testament to the human ability to find hope and perseverance even in the most challenging of times.”


Increased costs

We also asked respondents if they had been affected by rising costs, specifically around mortgage payments, higher energy prices and increased business costs.

Have you been affected byany of the following this year?

·        83.2% Higher energy prices

·       25.8% An increase in your mortgage payments

·       13.0% Increased business costs

Over 80% of respondents told us that they have been affected by the higher energy prices. In November 2023 Ofgem announced the energy cap would rise 5% to account for the rise in the wholesale cost of energy. It increased 5% again in January 2024, taking the cap to £1928 ayear – but the good news is that it’s likely the cap will drop 15% in April, taking it down to just under £200 a year less than it was in October 2023.

Around a quarter of survey participants have seen an increase in their mortgage costs,which is not surprising given that interest rates remain the highest they have been since 2008. 1.6 million people will see their fixed-rate mortgage deal expire over the course of 2024, which would likely see the percentage of respondents affected rise if asked again in December/January 24/25. If you’re one of those with a deal about to expire, now’s a good time to consider your options, as several of Britain’s largest lenders have slashed their rates to 4% and below to compete for customers.

The rising cost of living doesn’t just impact individuals – businesses have also taken a hit. 13% of our participants have also been affected by the rising cost of running a business. Fuel and energy costs impact everything from the cost of running an office to ordering goods – transport and shipping have increased across the board.

What are you planning todo this year?

•                 5.2%Start a business

•                 6.4% get married

•                 34.2% make a will

•                 25.1% move house

Despite the higher costs of running a company, around 5% are keen to start a new business in the coming year, which reflects analysis by the Centre for Economics Business Research (Cebr) that the number of small and medium businesses in the UK will increase by 342,000 by the end of 2025. It might be that now is the best time to start a business. For example, Purchasing a commercial property will beeasier as the cost of borrowing falls with interest rates.  

Over a third of participants are planning on making a Will this year, which is good news – in 2023 it was reported that over half of UK adults don’t have a Will. Without a Will, a deceased person’s assets are divided by the Rules of Intestacy, which in an overwhelming number of cases, do no treflect the deceased’s real wishes. A Will often protects families from conflict at the worst time in their lives, so knowing so many are taking steps to make one is very positive.

A quarterof respondents are planning to move this year and it might be a great time to do so with house prices expected to drop again. Spring is traditionally the most popular time to get your house on the market – the weather is a bit more predictable, there are a couple of public holidays, and your house will look its best with spring blooms and sunshine.

What matters to you mostwhen choosing a solicitor?

·        84.9% Reputation / Reviews

·       56.25% Responsiveness

·        38.1% Price

·       13.5% Location

We’ve covered how people feel about going into 2024, but when it comes to choosing a legal representative, reputation and reviews reign supreme according to this survey. A whopping 84.9% of respondents cited positive online reviews, and a strong reputation, as the most important factors influencing their decision. This highlights the power of word-of-mouth testimonials and established trust in the legal community.

Commenting on the response, Adam Hall from ReviewSolicitors said:

“Even if they have a recommendation from a friend or family member, customers will also want to validate that recommendation. They need to see genuine feedback  and are unlikely to believe hand-picked testimonials with all 5-star reviews. Feedback captured on a third-party platform such as Review Solicitors can provide the reassurance consumers seek before they settle on and make their final choice".

While responsiveness (56.25%) came in second, indicating a desire for clear communication and prompt action, price (38.1%) held less sway, surprising some who might expect cost to be paramount. Even location (13.5%) seemed less crucial, suggesting clients are willing to prioritise expertise and trust over physical proximity. These findings emphasise the significant role that trust and communication play in the legal world, reminding solicitors to cultivate strong online reputations and foster open, responsive relationships with potential clients.

Stephen Rimmer LLP, established in 1981, is a full-service law firm prioritising long-lasting relationships and open communication with clients and colleagues. They champion respect, teamwork, and innovation. The firm offers free first consultations to all new clients, removing some of the cost barriers associated with legal services. As well as offering a cost-effective service they use plain English instead of legal jargon. Their offices are in Eastbourne and Hastings; from there they share their expertise via blogs, articles and news on the subjects that matter to their clients.

The annual survey was carried out between 15th December 2023 and 31st January 2024 and received 1204 responses.