Without doubt, an aspect of law which causes great frustration is the use of jargon within our profession.
Every solicitor will tell you that a day doesn’t go by when numerous clients say to us: “Can you explain that in English?”
Therefore, it will be with some relief that the Legal Services Board (LSB), which oversees law firms in our country, have asked our profession to make our messages clearer to the public.
The LSB has said particularly financial services; healthcare and utilities have made an effort to make their services accessible to consumers and this needs to be applied to the legal sector.
The report has focussed on three non-financial barriers to legal access: inaccessible language, lack of trust and failure to cater for the needs of vulnerable consumers and sought advice from a range of bodies, including the Financial Conduct Authority, the General Dental Council and Department for Work and Pensions.
Regarding the communication issue, the length of and reliance on terms and conditions were found to prevent the public from progressing a matter, or even seeking advice again in the future.
Understandably, in the face of what seems gobbledygook, this has also contributed to decreased trust in lawyers.
Interestingly, the report said firms should try to layer information they present to clients, so certain key information is drawn out and presented up-front or in bold.
It states one way to improve this may be to provide lawyers with guides or toolkits to help them break down phrases or words to make them more understandable.
We at Bowsers can only applaud the LSB and we hope this report can start a process, which sees communication barriers eroded and with it trust builds up.
We are sure our views are echoed by every decent law firm up and down the land, and more importantly you – our customers.