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.”