Earlier this fall, Clio released its annual legal trends report, and as always, it presented some fascinating findings. For attorneys that haven’t gotten a chance to read the 2019 edition yet, let’s recap some things you need to know.
1- Attorneys Need To Establish An Online Presence
While building and maintaining strong referral connections is important for lawyers, it shouldn’t be the only way lawyers acquire new clients. The 2019 Clio Legal Trends report revealed that 57% of legal consumers will go out looking for an attorney on their own, without receiving a recommendation.
The report also detailed that 17% of consumers will use an online search engine to find an attorney, and 17% of those shopping for a lawyer will go and visit an attorney’s site.
What lawyers should take away from all of this is that in order to reach their maximum growth potential, they must become highly visible in online search results. Your practice needs to be engaged in search marketing, so that it shows up on the first page of relevant keywords your target clients care about. Your firm needs to build up online credibility, by having pages on multiple social networks, lots of blog and vlog content and a high number of online reviews. In this day in age, no attorney can afford to sit out on online marketing.
It’s also important to have a high quality website for your firm, that will impress potential clients when they visit to learn more about your services. You’ll need to take steps to make your site mobile friendly and easy-to-navigate, while also developing compelling written content.
In order to effectively grow your online presence and develop a website built to succeed in the digital age you’ll likely need some level of professional assistance. For expert recommendations on where to find that help, check out our Let’s Talk Legal Marketing discussion groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.
2- Your Firm’s Website Needs To Answer Certain Consumer Questions
Once legal consumers reach your website, you’ll need more than just a great looking design to convince them to reach out to you. The Clio Legal Trends report helped confirm some of the things consumers expect to find out when reaching your website for the first time.
- 77% of consumers want to know a lawyer’s experience and credentials.
- 72% of consumers want to know which types of cases a firm handles.
- 70% of consumers want a clear understanding of the firm’s legal process and what to expect.
- 66% of consumers want an estimate of the total cost for their case.
While many lawyers may not feel comfortable disclosing the cost of their services on their website, they can certainly satisfy the desires laid out in the first three bullet points above.
Every law firm website these days should have well-thought out bio pages for all of its attorneys, that detail their experience as a lawyer in an engaging fashion. For guidance on creating attorney bio pages, you’ll want to check out this blog post.
The Clio Trends Report also reminds us of the importance of having quality individual practice area pages, that go beyond just sharing basic information. “Consider each (practice area) page a mini ‘about us’ page that shows clients your approach to handling that particular service,” said content consultant Laura Ernde in her September LTLM feature. “Don’t just tell them you understand their needs, show them using concrete examples and case studies.”
Throughout your site, including the home page, you’ll want to give potential clients an inside look at your legal process and the way you handle cases from start to finish. This can be accomplished through FAQ pages, eBooks, blog posts, videos and case studies. Make sure across your site you aren’t just bragging about your firm being the best, but are explaining what exactly it is you can do for potential clients and how you go about reaching certain goals.
3- Online Reviews Mean More To Younger Clients
The adage “don’t believe everything you read online” has really seemed to sink in with Millennials and members of Gen Z. While the information shared on your firm’s website and social pages can certainly make an impact on a consumer, more recent generations of clients seem to put heavy weight in what their peers have to say about a firm.
According to the Clio Legal Trends Report, younger generations are more likely to care about a firm’s online reviews (46% of Gen Z and 53% of Millennials compared to 39% of Gen X and 25% of Boomers).
Most firms can’t afford to ignore younger clients, so you’ll always need to be paying close attention to what people are saying about you online. Having a high number of negative online reviews, or no reviews at all, can unfortunately push potential clients into the arms of competing firms.
“In regards to online reviews, you have to accept that in today’s world, general consumers listen to what others have to say online, even if it’s inaccurate or libelous,” said Douglas Bradley in our 2018 legal marketing survey eBook. “Digest that and move on, because online reviews can seriously help or hinder your online marketing efforts.”
Attorneys need to put in the work to build up an online reputation that will impress their new leads. This may mean contacting former clients and asking if they’ll review your firm, or making it a point moving forward to ask for a client’s review at the end of every positive case experience. You may also want to attempt to get negative reviews taken off the web, something this blog post can help with it.
4- Lawyers Need To Get On The Phone Right Away
These days, it’s not uncommon to see consumers to take their time and shop around for the best price on an item, or compare a few different services before eventually moving forward with one. But, when it comes to hiring a lawyer, many consumers seem to carry a much higher sense of urgency.
The 2019 Legal Trends Report tells us that 42% of consumers surveyed say that if they like the first lawyer they speak with they won’t need to speak with any others.
It’s not overly surprising to see that legal consumers are in a rush to find an attorney. Many of these people are going through a terrifying time in their lives, and seek immediate guidance. If a lawyer is able to talk a new lead through their legal struggles and provide comfort during their first call with a new lead, it makes sense that they would hire them.
Attorneys need to remember that getting clients is often not about being the best lawyer in your area, but the first one to make a positive impression on a consumer. If you take forever to call your new leads back, you’re probably going to lose out on a lot of new clients to more proactive competitors. Get on the phone with new leads as quickly as possible after they contact your firm, and you could see your firm’s lead conversion rate go way up.
5- You Always Need A Live Person Answering Your Phones
The internet has given consumers a lot of new avenues for reaching out to law firms. However, Clio’s latest survey reveals that it’s still an older communication avenue that remains the most used.
The 2019 report said that of those who indicated how they first reached out to a law firm, 68% said they reached out by phone, 25% by email or an electronic form, and 26% in person.
With over two-thirds of new legal leads making initial contact with a firm over the phone, all law offices need to make answering their incoming calls with a live voice a top priority. You never want the first impression your practice makes on a new lead to come from an automated machine. A live person can do so much more than your voicemail can, including taking new leads through the all-important legal intake process and answering any questions they have about your firm and your process. Asking potential new clients to leave a message during their time of need will likely leave them feeling uncared for, and result in them reaching out to other firms for help.
The simplest way to ensure that your law office is always able to give new leads a knowledgeable live person to speak with over the phone is by signing up with Answering Legal. Our phone answering service specifically caters to the legal industry, and operates on a 24/7 basis. When a new lead calls into your firm for the first time, and you and your staff can’t get to the call (a common occurrence during overnights and weekends), you can always count on a member of our receptionist team to pick up the call on your behalf and make a great first impression on your potential client.