Internet overtakes friends and family as main way to find a solicitor

Chris Jeffery

Jeffery: solicitors must pay attention to online marketing

Clients are significantly more likely to find a solicitor through the internet than by asking friends or family, a major study of over 2,000 people has found.

The survey – conducted for the recent Legal Futures ‘From Click to Client’ conference – indicated that 36% of consumers use the internet compared to 30% who would prefer to rely on friends or relatives.

The study of over 2,125 adults was carried out last month by YouGov for online legal information site FindLaw, owned by Thomson Reuters.

It indicates that the shift away from recommendation to the internet is continuing, although other surveys have continued to find that recommendation remains more popular, even if the gap is narrowing.

The FindLaw research showed that the proportion of people who researched solicitors before they instructed them was more than three-quarters, or 77%. The rest already knew a solicitor.

The survey found that only 1% of consumers relied on a telephone directory, compared to 7% who sought help from the Law Society.

FindLaw carried out a similar survey in the USA, though the sample was half the size of the UK’s. This showed that the percentage of potential clients finding lawyers online in the USA was slightly higher, at 38%.

However, the percentage of American consumers who already knew a lawyer was lower than here – 18% compared to 23%.

Chris Jeffery, head of small law for Thomson Reuters in the UK and Ireland, said the survey emphasised the need for solicitors to pay close attention to their online marketing efforts.

“Most solicitors recognise they can’t rely solely on personal referrals these days for new business, but invariably they don’t have the time or expertise to develop an online marketing strategy,” Mr Jeffery said. “Working with a professional agency is often a more realistic prospect for most solicitors.”


    Readers Comments

  • Joe Reevy says:

    Whilst I, and our clients, have no doubt about the capabilities of marketing on the web, I would love to see the data on who was asked, the exact question(s) asked and so on.

    My problem is that I have read a lot of research of this sort …

    One thing no-one talks about is the VALUE of business from recommendation as opposed to ‘cold’ web enquiries. That would be telling.

    The biggest issue for law firms isn’t getting new clients per se, it is the value of repeat business, which is the easiest and cheapest to get and is very poorly marketed by firms.

    The web is also a very efficient way to generate referral business!

  • Steve Simpson says:

    Having worked marketing several large law firms I know that digital if not already in front of referral, must be neck and neck. If you are prepared to pay for PPC it will be well above referral, yes conversion are going to be better for referrals but as long as your content on your website is clear, telling people ‘what you do and what you don’t’, you can get the conversions rate close to referral.

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