Legal Trends Report : Referrals the leading way lawyers get clients

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Despite all the money law firms spend on Internet marketing, more people choose a lawyer by a referral from a friend, relative or another lawyer than any other method. By far.

This from the 2017 Legal Trends Report, just released by Clio, a leading practice management solution provider.

When it comes to looking for a lawyer, consumers indicated that they sought referrals from friends/family (62%) and from other lawyers (31%). Online search (37%) and directory listings (28%) trailed. TV ads (13%), online ads (13%), radio ads (7%), and billboard ads (6%) had a much lower influence among respondents.

How do consumer find a lawyer?

Clio releases its annual Legal Trends Report to help lawyers make smart decisions about the future of their practice. Using anonymized data from 60,000 users, supplemented by large-scale surveys, Clio was able to make numerous findings, including where lawyers spend their time and where their concerns lie.

Business development, for lawyers, is the near the top of the list on both fronts. 33% of lawyers’ non-billable time is spent on business development. 41% of lawyers said they would spend even more time, if they had it, getting clients.

While data has become the world’s most valuable commodity, lawyers make their decisions in the dark. Lawyers go with what they think versus what they should know, based on data. Often it’s just “do what other lawyers do.”

Client procurement fits that mold perfectly. Survey results showed that 54% of law firms actively advertise to acquire new clients, yet 91% of firms can’t calculate a return on their advertising investments, and 94% don’t know how much it costs them to acquire a new client.

The data also shows that advertising is not the best use of a lawyers money – whether the ad is online or offline. Putting time and money into generating referrals is what the data shows lawyers should be doing.

Fortunately for lawyers, the Internet enhances a lawyer’s ability to get referrals from friends, family, business associates and fellow lawyers. Referrals are all about relationships and having a strong reputation. The Internet accelerates relationships and the building of a name.

Lawyers have the time for business development. 33% of their non-billable time is going into getting clients. The problem lies in spending their time doing the right thing.

Lawyers need to move away from promoting themselves on the Internet. That’s advertising.

Lawyers need to put their time into networking online. Think listening to the online discussion/writing of their target audience, including influencers and engaging that audience where they gather.

This comes from using a news aggregator or Twitter for listening, a blog for engaging in the “conversation,” and the use of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for further engagement and networking.

Sure, it takes time to learn how to blog and use social media, effectively. It takes even more time to do it.

But it’s time lawyers actually have, according to the Legal Trends Report. A third of a lawyers non-billable time is going into client procurement.

It’s data that’s been lacking. Lawyers put their time and money into things that don’t work and have no idea how much time it cost them to acquire a new client.

No more. With the Legal Trends Report, lawyers know that their time is best spent in activities that generate referals.

With the Internet, that means building relationships and a name through blogging and social media.

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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