Why Solicitors Don’t Do Cold Calling
Cold calling is one of those sales techniques that can raise the hackles of even the most laid back person and yet it is widely used by businesses both large and small – because it works.
However, cold calling is a marketing method that is a mystery to solicitors. The Solicitors Code of Conduct prohibits solicitors from using such methods, on the basis that it is judged to be unethical and potentially harmful to the public to promote legal services in that way.
There are ten fundamental principles in the Solicitors’ Code of Conduct 2011 that solicitors must observe. These include acting with integrity and behaving in a way that maintains public trust in them and it is made clear to solicitors by their regulator, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) that to use cold calling on members of the public would breach those principles and be a disciplinary matter.
However, these days there are plenty of organisations operating in and around the field of legal services that are not regulated at all nor are they prevented from cold calling to tout for business. Consequently, calls and texts from unregulated companies and individuals offering to write Wills or deal with probate for a deceased relative’s estate are becoming increasingly common. Because the general public is still largely unaware of the differences between those organisations and qualified, regulated solicitors they often assume that the calls and texts must be from firms of solicitors.
We were contacted by one of our older clients the other day who was cold called by a firm he had never heard of before. They had the word ‘Legal’ in their name so he thought they must be solicitors. They told him he needed to make a Will because of his age. He thought they were contacting him in an official capacity to tell him the Will he already has was no good. As a result of the cold call he became very anxious that there must be some sort of problem. He didn’t realise they were just trying to sell him their Will writing services. Of course, we were able to explain the situation and reassure him but how many other people in his position had that company contacted?
Will writers target cold calling the elderly
Some non-solicitor organisations keen to make contact with their target audience focus on cold calling elderly people living in sheltered housing or who live alone, i.e. people who are largely unfamiliar with changes that have happened in the legal services world and don’t know how to distinguish between regulated solicitors and other legal services suppliers.
Cold calling presumably has its place as a marketing tool and there are probably many businesses that use it in a responsible manner, but if it raises anxiety and confusion it can be harmful especially if it is targeted at vulnerable consumers such as the elderly or bereaved.
Solicitors have an important role to play as trusted advisers for the public; being able to maintain integrity is therefore vital for solicitors in building trust and confidence. The public is entitled to expect high standards from solicitors and if barring them from using certain sales ploys helps to keep standards high then it’s to be welcomed – and everyone should know about it.
So the next time the phone rings just when you’re sitting down to your dinner remember – it won’t be a solicitor cold calling you.