Internet Searches Now Favored Method to Find a Lawyer
Consumers use two methods to find a lawyer for their legal problem—either a search on the Internet or a referral from friends. According to a study done by FindLaw in 2014, searches on the Internet have overtaken word of mouth as the preferred method to find a lawyer.
The results were quite a change from a similar study conducted in 2005, reflecting both the growth of the Internet and the willingness to use it to find professional services. In 2014, 38% of the respondents said they use the Internet to find a lawyer compared to only 7% in 2005.
Not surprisingly, the Internet was more popular with the younger generation with nearly half of those 18–34 and 41% of those between the ages 35–44 indicating that they would start their search on the Internet. Only those over the age of 65 were twice as likely to consult a friend or family member first for a referral.
How Consumers Search for a Lawyer Online
Most consumers begin by searching for specific legal information related to their problem. They use search engines, law firm websites, online directories like the SBM Member Directory, and social media. Once they have gathered information, they search for a lawyer focusing on that area of law.
Armed with some names, they will do research before contacting and hiring an attorney. While part of that research will be consultations with friends and business acquaintances, a visit to the attorney’s website or directory profile information is in order. That means that your website and directory profile must be informative, easy to navigate, and mobile friendly. Consumers are looking for information that will help them feel that the attorney is credible and trustworthy.
It is also important to have your contact information on your website and directory profile. Consumers want to be able to easily schedule an appointment. An online scheduler, such as the one offered through your SBM Member Directory, can help consumers. It is readily available on a consumer’s phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer and is ready to use 24/7. By using the scheduler, your office is always open, can be accessed on all devices, and a quick link to the scheduler can easily be added to your website. (For more information on setting up your scheduler, see the Zeekbeek For Lawyers Page.)
A Look at the Future
Internet use for finding and hiring a lawyer will continue to grow as the younger generation ages, encounters legal issues, and turns to the Internet for answers. You need to have an online presence which includes an informative website, a regularly updated blog, a social network to promote both your blog and website, and a consistent presence across online directories and consumer review sites.
Taking steps to improve your online presence and making sure you can be easily found by the growing percentage of people searching will build your reputation and client base. We exist in a digital world. Join up so potential leads won’t slip through your fingers. Next week, read about Snapchat, the social media choice of the younger generation.
Roberta Gubbins has served as the editor of the Ingham County Legal News. Since leaving the paper, she provides services as a ghostwriter editing articles, blogs, and e-blasts for lawyers and law firms. She is the editor of Briefs, the Ingham County Bar Association e-newsletter, and The Mentor, SBM Master Lawyers Section newsletter.
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