Majority of Scottish SMEs do not get clear advice from law firms

Chris Harte, Chief Executive of Morton Fraser LLP
Chris Harte, Chief Executive of Morton Fraser LLP

Scotland’s law firms face a substantial disconnect with the SME community, with the majority of companies experiencing a lack of clarity over fees and even advice, according to a new study by Morton Fraser LLP.

The independent law firm’s research into the relationship between SMEs and legal advisors has revealed that over four fifths* (82%) of Scottish SMEs do not always get crystal clear communication from law firms on their costs, and advice.

According to Morton Fraser medium-sized businesses (between 50-250 employees) are less confident than larger companies in getting the clarity they want from law firms. Just 31 per cent said they always get clear advice and costings compared to 52 per cent of firms with 250-500 employees and 44 per cent of larger companies with over 500 staff **.

Chris Harte, CEO of Morton Fraser, said: “This is a wake-up call for our industry. Businesses think that law firms are not yet sufficiently clear about the three most important elements of legal service: advice, language and costs. We must do more to break down barriers and improve the quality of communication with clients. It is particularly concerning that so few SMEs feel as though they receive clear advice from law firms, particularly on costs.”

Morton Fraser address this disconnect by including a pledge that none of its clients will pay any fees that weren’t made clear to them in advance.

The firm has today launched a new campaign designed to prompt a re-appraisal amongst the business community. Its fly-on-the-wall stunt in Glasgow uses humour to draw comparisons between buying a cup of coffee and buying legal advice, with customers left bemused by a raft of add-ons, quirky coffee types and bizarre costings as they try (and mostly fail) to order coffee at a pop-up coffee van staffed by actors.

Chris Harte added: “Our campaign aims to raise awareness of this important issue. All law firms should be crystal clear on their fees. The clearer we can be about the advice we give, taking a confident stance on important issues, the easier it is for clients to act on our advice.”

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