We know that 37 percent of Americans have been to court, and that the most common U.S. consumer legal needs are will and estate planning, real estate transactions, and family law matters. But how do legal consumers choose their attorneys?
It shouldn't come as a surprise that clients want an expert. According to a FindLaw study, 54 percent of respondents say they consider an attorney's expertise in a particular field, and 29 percent of respondents say that expertise is the most important factor.
What are the other factors that legal consumers take into account?
This year, more consumers are relying on recommendations. Forty percent of respondents said that they consider recommendations from others when choosing an attorney, up from 37 percent last year.
Prospective clients also listen to their instincts, their wallets, and their voicemail when selecting counsel. An attorney's fee matters to 38 percent of this year's respondents, while 32 percent said that they needed to gain a sense of trust from the attorney. Almost one in every four respondents said that an attorney's response time made a difference.
Legal consumers even pay attention to an attorney's online presence. Three of the top 20 factors --attorney website ease of use, recommendations from online directory sites, and whether an attorney has been published -- show that the Internet plays into a client's decision.
How can you use this information to grow your practice?
- Maximize your Internet presence. Highlight your expertise, client reviews, and success stories on an easy-to-use website. FindLaw's Lawyer Marketing team can help you define your brand, and build a website that to assists you in converting clicks to clients.
- Start chatting. Incorporate chat functionality, like FindLaw's Conversion Solutions, into your website. With a live chat operator to address initial user intake questions, consumers get the immediate attention they want.
- Enroll in an attorney directory. Consumers turn to FindLaw's attorney directory to find local lawyers who specialize in fields like real estate, family law, and bankruptcy. Enrolling in an online attorney directory can increase your chance of being selected for your specialization.
Legal consumers consider a number of different factors when choosing a lawyer. FindLaw can help you develop a marketing plan that addresses those factors and showcases how your practice can meet clients' pressing needs.
-- Werner Colangelo, Audience Manager
with Robyn Hagan Cain, FindLaw Audience Team