If you could reach your clients with high-quality written and video content demonstrating how well you know their sector, all at relatively low cost, would you do it?
Set yourself apart
New research would suggest that, perhaps surprisingly, lawyers, accountants and trade bodies are a bit shy about giving their opinions.
Legis has examined government consultations in one sector - housing and real estate - and professional firms are lagging behind their clients in getting involved in public policy formulation.
They comprised only 3.5% of responses to consultations last year. Meanwhile, trade bodies comprised only 8.2% of responses.
In 2017, the Government opened 22 housing-related consultations, comparing to 14 in 2016, 17 in 2015, 9 in 2014 and 8 in 2013. Over the last five years the Government has launched an average of 14 housing-related consultations per year, with the clear trend being to increase the number of consultations.
But it is clear that professional firms could make a real difference if they responded to consultations and select committee inquiries, both for their clients and for their own marketing purposes.
And it doesn't have to be difficult - it's where Legis can help.
The number of responses to housing-related consultations in 2017 varied wildly, from 49 responses (regarding technical changes to Land Registration Rules) to 6,075 responses (regarding unfair prejudices in the leasehold market – i.e. ground rents).
While information regarding the sources of responses are not broken down uniformly across consultations, some trends are immediately apparent. Approximately, per consultation:
Local authorities make 20.5% of responses.
Private businesses, charities and landlords make 50% of responses, though this is heavily skewed by the fact that business was much more likely to respond to the more technical consultations. For the most popular consultations, business made up only 3.6% of responses.
Trade bodies make only 8.2% of responses.
Professional firms make only 3.5% of responses.
Government really values the input of professional firms because their responses include an understanding of the sectors combined with an understanding of existing law and how new laws might be interpreted.
We reported last month about consultation response opportunities in 2018.
Select Committee Inquiries
An even greater opportunity for sector thought-leaders is select committee inquiries.
The CLG Select Committee published two housing policy reports during 2017 and provided a breakdown of the written responses and oral evidence they had received.
Of the 177 organisations and individuals who responded to the two inquiries with written evidence, there were lots of developers, councils, trade bodies and housing associations. But not a single response was from a professional firm.
The inquiries were not on minor subjects. The reports were Capacity in the homebuilding industry (April 2017) and the Future of supported housing (May 2017).
They don't get much more important than that.
The Clerks who run the inquiries are really interested to get the views of a diverse range of opinions, particularly lawyers and accountants - not least because they hardly hear from them.
Look, mum, I'm on the telly!
And if you get call as a witness following your written evidence, you'll give videoed evidence to the committee itself. Which is a great - almost unique - marketing tool.
The Communities and Local Government Select Committee is currently looking for responses to their Land value capture inquiry (deadline 7 March) and Long term funding of adult social care inquiry (deadline 2 March).
Email me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to find out about how you can get involved.
Robert is a practising corporate and commercial solicitor with a background working as a justice policy researcher for David Cameron's Parliamentary Resources Unit. He was a candidate in the 2016 London Assembly elections.