When you are in the business of providing a service, it is important to know who needs your service and how to get it to them. With those questions in mind, FindLaw conducted a survey of people who had a legal issue occur in their lives to ask them: what was it and what did you do about it? The results of the survey taught us a great deal about who legal consumers are, what they need, and why so many of them come to FindLaw.com.

The survey was conducted online and involved a final response group of over 500 people. The first key question the survey asked was what are the kinds of legal issues you have encountered in the past two years? Or, as we like to say, what happened when life got legal?

According to the survey, most of the legal issues our consumers faced were those related to everyday life. The most common were those involving parking or other non-criminal traffic violations, at 31%. The next most common problems involved will preparation or other estate planning issues, with 26%, followed by family/domestic issues, at 26%.

The results changed a bit, however, when FindLaw asked about which of these legal issues consumers felt was most important. Not surprisingly, those pesky traffic violations tended to slide down the scale a bit. Respondents to the survey ranked the most important legal issue they faced as those concerning family/domestic issues (18%). Issues over preparing wills or other estate planning were second in line with 15%, with the traffic violations pulling in at only 10%.

Now that we learned what issues are important for consumers to cope with, the follow up question became, what’s next? Most respondents to the survey dealt with their legal need by contacting a legal professional or organization and for most (92%), this meant contacting a lawyer or law firm. About one fourth of legal consumers preferred to handle the issue on their own. Of this group, 49% represented themselves and 45% filed a claim or other forms on their own. Even those who decided to go it alone though, acted promptly to protect their interests. The survey found more than half (62%) acted on their legal need within a week.

This survey was undertaken with the purpose of understanding the needs of legal consumers. In asking questions about what legal issues consumers face and what do they do in response, FindLaw seeks to to become even better at always being part of the solution.

Return soon to read Part II; where we examine how and why consumers choose the attorneys they want to work with.

Colleen Dillon, Senior Director, Marketing
with Tanya Roth, FindLaw Portal Team

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