By Kevin O'Keefe

For lawyer, Internet may surpass personal referrals

More consumers rely on the Web for big purchases than parents, close friends, colleagues, media and religious figures according to the “Trusted Sources” Harris Interactive survey commissioned by Reply!.

imedia Connection reports U.S. consumers consider the Internet to be one of the most trusted sources for making major purchases and second only to spouses for finding referrals. “People don’t just turn to the Web for small purchases like CDs and books anymore, ” according to Reply! CEO Payas Amana. They trust the Web as an essential referral source for making major purchases such as homes, cars and loans.”

The survey also found that finding trusted sources of referrals for major purchase decision has become more important to consumers. Sixty-three percent of Reply’s! survey respondents said that finding a more trusted source of referral outweighed, nearly 3 to 1, the number of consumers who did not feel that this was important.

Sixty-three percent of respondents also said that they find the Internet to be an important, very important or extremely important source of information on referrals when it comes to buying decisions. A mere 5 percent say that the Internet is not resourceful for information, while 86 percent of the respondents say they tend to return to Internet sites that had provided referrals and good experiences in the past.

“This survey underscores what we experience on a daily basis at,” says Zamani. “People now routinely turn to the Internet to make the most important of purchase decisions.

I expect lawyers to be foolhardy and hold firm to their belief that people do not select a lawyer via the Internet and that personal referrals will always lead the way. Though personal referrals are important, believing the Internet takes a back seat flies in the face of data that the Internet is the ‘go to’ place for information.

Lawyers will hang on to their belief that personal referrals are the best source of work for two reasons. One, because that’s what worked in the past. But the fact is, in the past there was no better way. There was no Internet — no collective body of community knowledge about a lawyer that could be researched from your office or living room and no way to readily read a lawyer’s communications to consumers or business people.

Second, lawyers will say they tried the Internet and that it did not work as well personal referrals. However, a close examination of the law firms’ Internet efforts shows they did not know what they were doing or hired someone more interested in billing the firm for their Web site and Internet marketing work than getting results for the law firm.

Also keep in mind:

  • A personal referral may come as a result of what what the person making the referral saw on the Internet
  • After being referred to an attorney, it’s more probable than not the person receiving the suggestion is going to go to the Internet to research the lawyer’s background

Bottom line for lawyers, use the Internet and use it well — your prospective clients are.

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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