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Clio Legal Trends Report : Referrals The Leading Source of Legal Business

November 6, 2019

When comparing methods of looking for a lawyer, 59% of clients seek a referral from someone they know or have been in contact with.

Methods such as using an online search engine (17%) and visiting a lawyer’s website (17%), though important for some consumers of legal services, trailed referrals, substantially, as a source of legal business.

This, from Clio’s 2019 Legal Trend Report released at the Clio Cloud Conference in San Diego a couple weeks ago.

Whom did people go to for a referral to a lawyer?

“Friends and family members were the most common source for a referral (32%), followed by referrals from a lawyer (16%) or another non-legal professional (9%). (A non-legal professional could include an accountant, real estate agent, or someone else working in a profession related to a certain type of issue.)”

32% of clients seek a referral from a friend or or family member. 25% seek the referral from a professional of some sort.

The report further found “Of those who sought a referral first, only 16% also looked on their own.”

Almost 60% of people seek a referral when looking for a lawyer and less then 20% of those who seek a referral look on their own, separately.

What should legal professionals take from the Legal Trends Report?

  • The report is based on sound data. In addition to its own data from tens of thousands of legal professionals in the U.S., Clio surveyed 2,000 consumers to learn how clients ultimately choose one lawyer over another.
  • When looking at the Internet to grow business, lawyers should look at ways to use the Internet that will generate referrals, online and offline.
  • Look at what other lawyers are doing when it comes to the Internet, and try something different. As one legal blogger recently told me, “I zig, when others zag.” Building relationships and a strong word of mouth reputation through the Internet is something few lawyers do very well. Perhaps a golden opportunity.
  • Of course, not all clients rely on referrals to find a lawyer, many opt to search on their own. In which case websites, SEO, local search, directories, yellow pages and ratings become more important.
  • Though lawyers may benefit most from networking through the Internet to build relationships and a strong word of mouth presence, websites, search and other items remain important. Anyone getting a referral will go the firm’s website.
  • While lawyers are looking to grow their business, they may not be using the most effective methods to grow business. In addition, lawyers are looking to grow their business where the competition from other lawyers is most heavy.

Clio’s Legal Trends Report asks the right question.

“87% of lawyers agree they want their firms to grow over the next three years—and 67% say they want to grow more than a little. And when it comes to growth, lawyers rank revenues and client base as the top two areas they want to see grow. But how prepared are lawyers to achieve these goals?”

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