rblog

Recognising vulnerability: Small changes can make a big difference

By Debra Malpass on 16 May 2016

Client care in the spotlight

The team is currently working hard on the new SRA Risk Outlook, and once again we will be highlighting the risk of poor standard of service. An important aspect of this is how solicitors and law firms recognise and respond to the needs of clients, including those who may be vulnerable.

Proper standards of service for clients, particularly those who are vulnerable, has always been an SRA priority. Our previous research has found that it is important for law firms to consider consumer vulnerability in order to meet their clients’ needs. In turn, recognising vulnerability and engaging with clients to meet their needs is fundamental to access to justice.

Resources you can use

In March, we published a specific paper on providing services to people who are vulnerable, which brings together a range of useful resources and information about vulnerability for solicitors and law firms. The paper includes the regulatory and legislative responsibilities that law firms have towards clients with different vulnerabilities. It also provides practical examples of small changes that have made a big difference to clients. For example, one law firm works with its local older people’s forum, and another firm uses text messages to keep in touch with clients who are homeless.

Helpful links

The paper also has links to more information to help you understand how clients can be vulnerable and how best to support them when they use your services. This includes:

  • the Legal Choices website, which we run with other regulators to provide plain English information on legal services to the public – sometimes people can feel vulnerable if they don’t understand what they are facing, or the choices they have
  • relevant legislation including the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006
  • research into the experience of deaf and hearing impaired clients, and clients with learning disabilities.

A positive approach

We hope that by engaging with you on how to consider and respond to consumer vulnerability, we are showing how small changes can make a big difference to client care, and reduce the risk of clients experiencing a poor standard of service. Solicitors and law firms often provide legal services to clients at some of the most difficult times in their lives. We know how valuable this help can be and hope the resources we provide add to this value. If you would like to read more about providing services to people who are vulnerable.

Debra Malpass