The legal consumer isn’t just any consumer

As an attorney, you’re accustomed to having the knowledge you need to do your job. An arbitrator within your respective practice area, you’re confident that when clients come to you with legal problems, you have the information and answers to resolve their issues. For you, practicing the law and helping clients is what you do.

But what about the other aspects associated with growing your small firm? Do you understand how your prospective clients find attorneys? What about the information sources they use to learn about their legal issues? Do you know the process they go through to find an attorney and the qualities deemed most important when they make the decision to hire? In this post, we share three principal distinguishing traits of legal consumers and identify how lawyers can and should respond to them.

The legal consumer hires a lawyer because they need to, not because they want to

All legal situations are different, but the people that go out of their way to contact your firm have a great deal in common. They’re all facing major or unanticipated changes and challenges in their lives. And there’s something else they didn’t anticipate: the need for legal representation. Further, they often don’t want to spend a lot of time finding it. Like most Americans, they want to find a good attorney and hire that attorney as soon as possible.

The tendency for consumers to move quickly is a boon for your firm. But you need to be prepared to take advantage. And you prepare by understanding the modern legal consumer’s journey.

To capture a potential client who wants to make a connection, first be sure your website (and social media channels, if you have them) make it very easy to get ahold of you. They should, at minimum, list your up-to-date phone number, email and physical address. Click-to-call features are now expected on mobile devices, so not having one is a loss. If a chat or answering service is in your budget, it would be an investment worth making. While this may sound like basic advice, a great many law firms lose business by not meeting even these elementary requirements, and that’s business that can and should come to you instead.

Along those same lines, attorneys should respond to calls and messages from all potential clients promptly. That’s because most legal consumers will move on to the next lawyer on the list, potentially hiring that lawyer, if they don’t feel responded to by the first lawyer. FindLaw research has shown that far too many attorneys systematically let calls go straight to voicemail because they want to focus on current matters and erroneously think clients are okay with leaving a message. Some attorneys use answering or web chat services so they can work on the task at hand but still make potential new clients feel responded to.

Legal consumers hire attorneys quickly

Because they perceive they have no time to waste, legal consumers are likely to conduct little research before starting outreach. Oftentimes, they hire the first lawyer they can get ahold of.

So, in order to catch the eye of someone moving quickly, be in multiple places at once. Of course, your website should be up-to-date and aligned with current search engine optimization practices. Beyond that, a presence on social media (chiefly LinkedIn and Facebook) further creates opportunities to catch someone’s eye.

Legal directories aren’t glamorous, but they’re designed to give legal consumers exactly what they want when they want it, so a listing is an excellent use of legal marketing spend. The point here is that casting a wide net boosts the likelihood of successfully grabbing a prospective client’s attention. A website is valuable, but on its own, it can’t do everything.

Legal consumers select a lawyer based on how the lawyer makes them feel

Beyond feeling that they could be about to face hardship, many legal consumers are also fearful that they will be stuck with a lawyer who doesn’t connect with them, listen to them, or understand where they are coming from. Hence, they want a lawyer who will relate to them in addition to providing outstanding legal representation.

To click with a legal consumer on a personal level, make sure that your digital presence conveys a sense of who you are and how you practice law, so that a potential client who comes across information about you feels like they are getting to know you. Are you a fighter? Or are you more of a compassionate practitioner? Express your personality in your online presence. What sets you apart from other law firms? Talk about your involvement in charities, community events, and other philanthropic activities.

Also, be sure that your website has a current professional headshot and some client testimonials. Hiring a lawyer is often more of an emotional purchase, so a legal consumer is more likely to hire someone they like and trust. To make that connection, be sure your online presence tells a story about who you are as a lawyer instead of just a list of your awards.

To learn more about connecting with legal consumers, get your free guide, Six Ways Attorneys Can Make A Great First Impression Online. Don’t miss an opportunity to connect with the ever changing legal consumer and grow your practice.

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