Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Survey: Most Clients Shop Around Before Picking a Lawyer

When they’re looking for a lawyer, most people will talk with more than one law firm before making their choice.

But once they speak with a lawyer who makes a great first impression, 42 percent will end their search right then, without contacting any others.

Those are two of the key takeaways from the 2019 Clio Legal Trends Report.

“We surveyed consumers to shed more light on how they look for a lawyer, what they expect when reaching out, and what drives them away,” according to the report. “Our findings show that referrals aren’t the only means clients use to seek a lawyer, and that clients have a high bar for deciding who to reach out to—and who to ultimately hire.”

Read the report here.

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2019 Clio Legal Trends Report

“What are potential clients really looking for when seeking legal help?” Clio’s researchers wanted to know. “To find out, we surveyed 2,000 consumers to learn how clients ultimately choose one lawyer over another. One of the most interesting things we learned is that—despite being recognized as the primary driver for new business—not all clients rely on referrals to find a lawyer. In fact, many opt to search on their own.”

What they also discovered was that Shop Around is not just a great song by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. It’s also the way clients find a lawyer.

Forty-four percent of clients believe they need to talk to more than one lawyer to find one that’s right for them, and 57 percent of those who have hired a lawyer say they contacted more than one law firm.

The initial conversation is key. A good first impression might very well seal the deal, while a bad impression is almost guaranteed to drive the prospect away.

What Makes a Good First Impression?

The most important factor is responsiveness. Clients want to be able to speak with a living, breathing lawyer – not an assistant, voicemail or chatbot – quickly and easily. The second most important factor is the friendliness and likeability of the lawyer’s tone. Some numbers:

  • 82 percent say timeliness is essential.
  • 81 percent want a response to each question they ask.
  • 80 percent say it’s important to have a clear understanding of how to proceed.
  • 76 percent want to get a clear sense of how much their legal issue could cost.
  • 74 percent want to know what the full process will look like for their case.

The bottom line: lawyers need to consider how quickly they respond and how well they respond.

Respond Within 24 Hours

How quickly do potential clients expect firms to respond when leaving a phone message or email?

  • 10 percent expect a response within an hour
  • 24 percent within a few hours
  • 45 percent within 24 hours
  • 5 percent within 72 hours

“Responding beyond 24 hours means missing the expectations of 79 percent of those who reach out,” says the report. “Given that clients are likely to reach out to more than one firm when experiencing a legal problem, being the first to respond will help make a better impression.”

The phone is the most important channel for initial contact (68 percent), but email (25 percent) and in-person (26 percent) are also significant.

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About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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