TV adverts are not the panacea

Solicitors must be wondering what has happened to cost cutting at Chancery Lane. Millions of pounds are suddenly being promised for all types of advertising activities to polish up the image of solicitors. Sir Tim Bell has crossed the threshold of Chancery Lane, a sure sign that things have got serious on the image front.

Sir Tim does not come cheap. Nor does a television advertising campaign which has been estimated to cost as much as £5 million.

The legal profession is certainly getting all the right signals that Chancery Lane is in charge and, no matter what the cost, is treating the image crisis very seriously.

However, the Law Society seems to have forgotten that these solutions have all been tried before. And while advertising campaigns do work to a degree, past experience has shown that it is the profession which has pulled the plug on them, either because it did not like the tone of the advertisement or because they were too expensive.

It is easy to believe that if you throw money at a problem, it is soon fixed. The Law Society should remember that running an advertising campaign showing solicitors as approachable and easy to talk to may be all fine and well.

But there will be disappointed members of the public who will not have this experience of solicitors. There is a very real danger of over-promising to the public, as the last television campaign revealed.

Instead, perhaps the Law Society should concentrate on encouraging solicitors to deliver the basics of client care. More interaction with organisations such as the Consumers Association to see what the public really want will cost a lot less than a TV campaign but may in the long-term yield more results for the profession as a whole.

As the old saying goes, you can fool some of the people…