Still need more proof that your law firm needs an online presence? Weigh the following evidence.

FindLaw recently conducted a professional survey of 1,000 American consumers on their methods of searching for attorneys. So where do you think they’re most likely to look? You might think friends or word-of-mouth sources or perhaps the trusty old phone book.

None of the above. These days, it’s the Internet, hands down.

That’s new — a big change, in fact. Nine years ago, when FindLaw conducted a similar survey, friends and relatives were the dominant source of information that people tapped to help find legal expertise. The Internet barely registered.

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The percentages don’t add up to 100 because the remaining respondents offered other answers. For instance, 15 percent of people surveyed in 2014 said that they already have a relationship with a lawyer and would not look into engaging other lawyers if they had a legal issue for which they needed representation.

But the point remains: People are looking for attorneys more and more online. Word of mouth is no longer the rule.

And here’s another point that the 2014 survey uncovered: Consumers are more likely to turn to the Internet not only to find an attorney but to research them before contacting and hiring one. Among other things, that means that even if you have a website, it has to be an informative, attractive site that is easy for visitors to navigate. They’re looking for information and a sense that the attorneys on the firm’s site are trustworthy.

In short, more and more people believe that the Internet provides a faster, easier and more thorough method to find an attorney, compared with the alternatives. Friends and other contacts may know only a limited number of attorneys, and those attorneys may not specialize in the areas of law where a potential client needs help.

The take-away from the survey: Attorneys today need to have an online presence, primarily through a website. The law profession exists increasingly in a digital world. To deny this fact means that you’re letting potential leads slip through your fingers.

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