Will the digital badge help clients?

As part of the price and service transparency reforms we know that CLC and SRA-regulated firms will be required to display the relevant digital badge on their websites in order to signify their adherence with the appropriate rules and standards.

It will not be compulsory to display the digital badge until Spring 2019. Although as law firms are having to amend their websites in order to comply with the new price and service transparency reforms in any event firms should consider adding the symbol as soon as it becomes available.

At the Legal Eye conference held in November the SRA and CLC were questioned as to how much value consumers are likely to place on the badge. The CLC’s Stephen Ward said: “Consumer response to the badge has been very positive. We do actually get a relatively high number of phone calls querying whether a firm is regulated or not and the badge provides a symbol that a firm is regulated and provides confidence to consumers.”

David Bish of the SRA echoed the sentiment saying: “As well as helping consumers to understand which firms are regulated, the digital badge is also a really useful tool in combatting fraud. Research shows that the badge helps to reduce fraud and press coverage of, for example, property fraud is helping to raise awareness of the need for extra vigilance by all parties.”

However some consumer groups remain unconvinced. It remains to be seen whether clients will really understand what the digital badge means; and it does perhaps seem unlikely that sophisticated cyber criminals will be put off making attempted attacks just because a firm has a badge to say that it is regulated.

Protection from fraudsters?

After all, regulated firms face attacks all the time at the moment; they need to have appropriate defences and insurances in place in order to protect themselves and their clients against fraud – and not all of these standards are covered by the regulators. Schemes such as the Government’s Cyber Security Essentials accreditation and the information security standard (covering information security in its widest sense; not just digital data) can help firms to build a robust and secure framework to thwart criminals.

Legal Eye Managing Director Paul Saunders said: “Firms will have to display the digital badge and there is no harm in doing so. Some of our clients have identified a risk of adding more and more symbols and logos to their website and email footers in that too many award-related logos, accreditations and other logos can start to get confusing for consumers and the value of each ‘badge’ could start to get lost. Legal Eye regularly advises firms on how to identify and achieve appropriate and useful accreditations as well as how to implement the required changes on service and price transparency.”

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