Byte of Prevention Blog

by Lawyers Mutual |

Prompt Response Times, Online Presence, and Client Reviews Are Keys to Client Hiring Decisions

Eighty percent of legal consumers looking to hire an attorney will move on if they don’t here back from an attorney within 48 hours.

Seventy percent of consumers review online content before engaging with an attorney. This includes blogs, websites, online reviews, social media sites, and testimonials.

Consumers view online reviews as the most important criteria for an attorney’s reputation. The level of the rating as well as the number of reviews matter equally to clients.

These are just a few of the findings from Martindale-Avvo’s 2023 Understanding the Legal Consumer Report. 

The report notes a shift in legal consumer behavior since the COVID pandemic. Prospective clients are now far more willing and interested in using digital solutions to find a lawyer. This is especially true for younger consumers. Gone are the days when word of mouth was the primary driver of client decision making. It is essential today for law firms to have a strong online presence to attract business. 

This does not mean that firms can ignore good customer service practices. Online resources are tools that prospective clients use to determine whether they even want to meet in person with the lawyer. Once that hurdle is cleared, clients will typically reach out and ask for an in-person meeting. The report makes clear that firms must respond promptly to consumers’ requests for in-person meetings. Eight out of ten prospective clients feel that their legal matter is extremely urgent or somewhat urgent. If they don’t get an immediate response, they will move on.

 Firms that want to remain competitive in this shifting landscape must be willing to evolve by cultivating an online presence that meets the needs and preferences of legal consumers. These consumers want to know that you have the expertise and experience required to handle their matter. Does your website reflect that? Do you have informative content on your website that displays your knowledge and experience? Do you have a social media presence that reflects your involvement in the legal community and your practice experience? If not, many prospective clients will not even consider an initial consultation with you. 

In addition to offering a strong online digital presence and online resources, firms must also have positive online reviews. The report notes that “[c]onsumers consider online reviews as the most important criteria for an attorney’s reputation.” This means that good client relations and communications are essential. In his article The Secret to Making Your Practice Bloom, Jay Reeves offers five client service tips to improve the client’s experience and increase the likelihood of positive online reviews.

  1. Give them something they can’t get online. Such as empathy, patience, attention and genuine caring.
  2. Don’t make them wait. According to one study, the number one complaint of retail customers was long waits in check-out lines. Not price. Not quality. The waiting was the hardest part.
  3. Greet them like you mean it. Know who the client is and why they are coming to see you. Show them that you care and are prepared to help them.
  4. Do a great job for them. You can be the sweetest-smelling flower in the garden but it will mean nothing if you don’t get the work done. Execute and follow through. through continuing education.
  5. Don’t add to their problems. If something goes wrong, deal with it quickly, candidly and competently. One simple way to do this is by having professional liability insurance coverage.

No matter how good your client service is, you will sometimes get a negative online review from a client. When you do, be careful about how you respond to that review. In 2020 FEO 1, the North Carolina State Bar ruled that a lawyer is not permitted to include confidential information in a response to a client’s negative online review. You are allowed to disagree with the client’s review and explain in your response that you are prohibited from disclosing confidential information that would provide a more complete explanation of your disagreement. However, unlike the situation where you are responding to a Bar grievance or malpractice complaint, you may not disclose confidential information in your response. 


About the Author

Lawyers Mutual

Lawyers Mutual, founded in 1977, is the first lawyers mutual insurance company in the country and has provided continuous professional liability coverage to North Carolina lawyers for 40 years. Its reputation for leadership, professionalism and commitment to its attorneys sets the standard for other legal malpractice insurance providers. For more information, call 800.662.8843, follow us on Twitter @LawyersMutualNC, connect on our LinkedIn page, like us on Facebook

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