With discussions about Brexit and the results of the general election never far from earshot, it would be easy to perceive any mention of a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ as political posturing.
However, after a month in which Manchester showed the world what it is made of, it is difficult not to feel a certain amount of pride and optimism over what the region has achieved in recent years.
Despite the horrific events at Manchester Arena, the newly elected Mayor of Manchester seems to share this optimism. On his official campaign website, Burnham draws on both Manchester’s industrial past and recent technological successes, pledging to "forge a new, dynamic and collaborative relationship with businesses".
The dynamism and collaboration the new mayor hopes to encourage are themes that have certainly befitted the technology sector. After all, it is the coders who have flourished in Manchester over the past few years.
The annual Tech Nation Report shows that the total digital turnover for the city in 2016 was £2.9bn and that 28% of the 50 fastest growing tech companies in the north are located in the Manchester.
Now, more than ever, law firms and legal enterprises need to embrace the optimism, innovation and entrepreneurship that has lead the region’s tech businesses to such success.
This is not to say that the legal sector does not already have its fair share of innovators; but to fully adapt to the changing demands and expectations of the everyday consumer, the sector needs fresh ideas.
The issue of transparency over pricing is one that is often met with frustration from law firms. In December 2016, the Competitions & Markets Authority (CMA) stressed in their Legal Services Market study that:
‘there is a lack of information on price, service and quality that is available to consumers when they try to engage in the sector’.
Of course, giving straight forward information about pricing helps to build trust with potential clients, allows them to compare prices and gives them a chance to budget; things they have come to expect from their shopping habits elsewhere. However, asking a solicitor to give a figure for their services is akin to asking a chef how much it costs for a meal; each case is individual and so are prices.
Without reviewing the details of a given matter, providing information on price can be challenging; setting it out in a way that consumers will understand, even more so.
The obstacles that changing consumer demands have led to require creative solutions. Just like the ambitious businesses thriving across Greater Manchester, law firms must look to technology and innovation to give clients the user experience that they have come to expect.
LawBid is a platform that offers a solution to both the problems faced by solicitors over price transparency and by clients when comparing legal services.
Instead of comparing services and prices using a traditional price comparison model, LawBid users post their legal requirements onto LawBid’s secure portal. From there, solicitors within their selected geographical radius are able to review the information provided, communicate securely with the client to find out further details and provide them with a quote once satisfied they have all of the relevant material.
Clients are able to compare solicitors based on their locality, specialisms, user reviews and quoted price.
Recognised and commended at both the Modern Claims Awards and the Legal Week Innovation Awards, LawBid is becoming increasingly popular in the sector as well as among client users.
When a person chooses to instruct a solicitor, they are often doing so at a vulnerable, challenging or financially important time of their life. Giving clients the chance to make better informed decisions is crucial, but must be done in a way that is realistic for solicitors and in keeping with the client’s expectations as a consumer.
New technologies and online channels are a way for the legal sector to solve the problems it faces on its own terms. As Manchester continues to be a hub for innovation, it is our hope that legal professionals will take a leaf out of the tech scene’s book and explore new and exciting ways of moving the sector forward.