Legal consumers have changed – has your firm’s approach?

When it comes to legal consumers, annual surveys and reports are valuable for learning about current behaviors and trends. However, it’s often difficult to derive deep meaning from a brief snapshot in time. This is true when it comes to understanding legal consumers’ behaviors and their preferences in researching legal issues, as well as finding and hiring an attorney. To gain meaningful perspective, discern key learnings, and understand how to apply them in the future, it’s helpful to have more data and context.

Through this lens, the white paper, Yesterday, today, and tomorrow: Legal consumers have changed – what your firm must do to change with them, delves into findings from a decade of U.S. Consumer Legal Needs Surveys. Unsurprisingly, the most marked differences are between survey years 2010 and 2020. While many things have changed with regard to how legal consumers research their legal issues and find an attorney, one key factor stands out: the rise and use of new technologies.

Moving to mobile

Consider that in 2010, only nine percent of U.S. Consumer Legal Needs Survey respondents reported using the internet to find an attorney. By 2020, that number jumped to 35% – further validating why law firms must continue to develop a strong online presence.

For attorneys at solo and small law firms, this translates into not only making sure that you have a website, but making sure that your website is aesthetically pleasing, provides useful information, and will be found by search engines. Additionally, it’s becoming more and more critical that your website be mobile-responsive. In fact, according to 2019 Pew Research Center research, more than 80% of U.S. adults own a smartphone. In 2011, that number was only 35 percent. When you navigate to your firm’s website on a smartphone, how does your site look? Is it easy to read and are there clear and compelling calls to action (i.e., click-to-call features)? If not, you could be losing out on business from smartphone-savvy legal consumers who need your help.

Getting social

In addition to having a mobile-responsive website, we know today that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are effective ways for attorneys to promote their brands and engage with legal consumers. Flashback to 2010 and social media was in its infancy with businesses, including law firms, only beginning to realize the potential these platforms held. Today, 1 in 10 respondents to the 2020 U.S. Consumer Legal Needs Survey began their journey to find an attorney via social media – a number that doesn’t take into account the likely higher numbers of legal consumers who subsequently consulted social media to build out their impression of an attorney or firm.

In 2019, an estimated 69% of U.S. adults used Facebook. Is your firm doing everything possible to ensure that potential clients can easily find and connect with you via social media? Have you built out your profiles and are you taking steps to proactively target your desired clients? Social media isn’t going anywhere and will likely only continue to increase in popularity. Make sure you’re in the game and reaping the potential rewards these platforms offer.

Boosting visibility with directories

A decade ago, legal consumers were more likely to look up an attorney in a phonebook. Fast forward 10 years, and those phone books have expanded and moved online. Today, legal directories like are readily used by legal consumers to find and research attorneys. This is true of all legal consumers, and especially of Hispanic legal consumers whose population has grown to nearly 60 million in the U.S. In fact, survey results from 2020 show that 48% of Hispanic consumers with a legal need used an online legal directory to research and connect with an attorney. A great way to reach Hispanic legal consumers is by having a listing on

Looking to the future

There’s no way to know what the next 10 years will bring in terms of new technologies. However, as evidenced by the past decade, there are sure to be tremendous advances. In order to stand out from competitors, attorneys must be strategic and forward-thinking in their approach to reach, connect, and engage with legal consumers. Download the white paper today and talk to the experts at FindLaw to learn more about how to customize and get the most out of your digital marketing strategy.

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