Family law firms have set an important benchmark for affordable services, with more than eight out of 10 of their clients able to cover the cost of fees themselves.
Research conducted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) examined the experiences of those who had turned to the firms for advice.
It found that solicitors – particularly those who practice family law – are increasingly offering alternative ways for clients to pay fees.
This is, in part, a response to the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) – a piece of legislation which controversially cut legal aid for millions of families.
85 per cent of firms now offer unbundled services, a similar proportion have a fixed fees system, and 93 per cent will agree monthly payment plans.
This flexibility has meant that a clear majority of clients were able to pay for services themselves, rather than having to turn to family, friends or loans.
Solicitors were also praised for taking a more client-focused approach, with client contact training being offered to staff.
Paul Philip, the SRA’s chief executive, said: “People who need to use family law services are often in particularly vulnerable situations. Situations such as divorce or child custody arrangements are highly emotional and stressful, and the consequences of poor legal services can be life changing.
“It is important that people can find services that meet their needs and that those services are affordable. This research is a contribution to understanding the current landscape and what more can be done to help.”