The COVID-19 pandemic has had wide-ranging implications for many different industries, not least for legal services providers. For example, it has become more common for consumers to conduct research into service providers online, which may include using Digital Comparison Tool (DCT) websites such as TripAdvisor and Trustpilot.
Different DCTs have different business models. Some focus on identifying providers by location, for example. Others focus more on ratings, reviews, or price. Many offer a combination of the above. A common feature of DCTs is that they give listed providers a platform for showcasing their service, boosting their visibility nationwide.
In recent years, DCTs have become increasingly common in the legal sector, especially in relation to services such as conveyancing and employment law. But, to date, very few DCTs have served the Bar. As a result, few consumers use DCTs to assist with their barrister selection. This is now changing, as more DCTs launch barrister-focused services.
In September, we launched our own DCT pilot. The pilot, which will last for 12 months, will help us improve our understanding of the DCT market and its applicability to the Bar. Our pilot will also help us understand whether, and how, the DCT market could help us further our regulatory objectives, and whether the market offers a benefit to consumers and the Bar.
We currently have four DCTs participating in our pilot. All offer slightly different services, each with differing levels of emphasis on client ratings and reviews. You can find out more about our pilot DCTs here.
We are now calling on barristers to come forward and join our pilot: your input can help shape our thinking about the use of DCTs at the Bar. To join our pilot, please email us at DCTPilot@barstandardsboard.org.uk. Our initial focus is on employment law, but barristers in other areas of practice are also welcome to join. We invite both public access and referral barristers to take part.
If you would like to learn more about our DCT pilot, please check out our dedicated webpage. You can also sign up to our pilot webinar, which will be held on 20 October at 17:30 – click here to register. At the webinar, you will have the opportunity to ask questions of panel speakers. Speakers will include legal regulators, DCT pilot participants and consumer group representatives.
Rupika Madhura, Head of Policy and Research