Although technology has worked its way into more and more of our daily business functions over the years, the legal industry has shown quite a bit of resistance. Up until recently, many lawyers viewed their target market as the roughly 30-mile radius surrounding their office, and almost all of their client communications were done in-person, after an introductory phone call.
However, the legal industry has steadily become more open to the idea of remote work to improve client service. In late 2021, Clio’s Legal Trends Report found that 79% of those asked believed that the option to work with a lawyer remotely was “an important factor that would have a positive influence on their decision to hire a lawyer.” This is a stark difference from 2018, where only 23% of survey participants said this was the case.
Although the value of face-to-face communication will never disappear entirely, the growing demand for remote communication is changing the manner in which law firms gain new clients, and keep their existing ones. Here are four key ways that the remote work landscape is changing the world of legal marketing and client relationships.
1. It’s Time to Invest in Your Digital Presence
In today’s market, your firm’s online presence often serves as your first impression, even if your potential new client has learned of you from a referral source, as they will want to confirm for themselves before calling you directly. It’s of the utmost importance that you have a high-quality, up-to-date website that showcases positive client reviews, a clear and easy-to-understand description of the services that you offer, and attorney profiles that not only list out accomplishments but comes across as someone personable and understanding and the clear choice someone would want to hire.
Although ensuring your firm has strong reviews online can often fall by the wayside, it certainly shouldn’t. In fact, a 2022 Clio study found that 82% of legal consumers believe that a firm having several positive online reviews is a factor that influences their decision-making process. A recent survey by Review Trackers not only supported the importance of reviews, but also found that customers do not trust businesses with less than a four-star rating.
When searching for a law firm name on Google, reviews are one of the first things that potential new clients see, and a lack of reviews can throw the credibility of your firm unnecessarily into question. There’s not a particular amount of reviews your firm should have, but it’s best practice to ensure your firm stacks up with your competition. Never be shy to ask your satisfied clients for a review when the opportunity presents itself.
Beyond positive reviews on Google, ensuring your business is visible online is an absolute must. Every law firm should be focusing on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), particularly as more and more clients use their phones to search making local content even more important. If your site ranks well for SEO, you’ll be shown higher in Google search results for important terms that new clients looking for your services are likely to type into the search bar. You can bolster your SEO and showcase your firm’s unique value proposition by producing engaging blogs and content, which will not only help attract new website traffic but establish your firm as a thought leader in the industry.
2. Your Geographic Reach has Broadened
The clearest implication of the shifting landscape in regards to remote work is that it is easier than ever to reach clients beyond the geographic region surrounding your offices. The fact that remote work has been normalized due to the pandemic means that people are much more open to working with firms outside of their geographic region because they’ve found that not much is sacrificed in a fully-remote relationship. A client relationship, from start to finish, can now be managed entirely online, making it less important where a firm is based.
As a result, firms should be pivoting their legal marketing strategy to market to a larger geographic audience than they were previously. For instance, if you were only focusing on one metropolitan area, you can expand to the entire state or even a nationwide audience. Digital marketing platforms like Google Ads and LinkedIn enable you to leverage robust geotargeting to reach new markets in an efficient and effective way.
3. It’s Time to Give Paid Advertising a Shot
In the digital age, being a local legal service is not enough. With the reach of practices stretching beyond their previous geographic territory, competitors are marketing to your potential clients all the time through digital channels. In fact, if you haven’t searched your firm’s name on Google in the past couple of months, chances are your competitors are coming up before you because they are leveraging Google Ads to run competitor campaigns.
If you haven’t invested in paid advertising before, but have the budget to do so, it’s time to consider it. You will need campaigns across a number of channels, like Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook, in order to attract new potential clients and increase your overall brand awareness.
4. Prioritize Communication and Client Service
Many attorneys will check in with their clients at important junctures of the legal process, but can often take a long time to respond to client calls and emails as a product of their hectic schedules. A less proactive approach to client communication can fly with clients who you’ve met in person, but it is much more challenging to build strong client relationships completely digitally.
Those looking for legal services can find tons of potential firms to work with with a simple Google search, and it is easy for your firm to lose potential clients by not being quick to follow up, whether it’s your first time talking to them or your hundredth. Why should someone waste their time with a firm that rarely responds to their emails and calls in a timely fashion when there are plenty of other competitors that will?
Building on the topic of timely communication, there’s never been a better time to invest in client service more broadly. When the majority of your conversations are happening over a webcam, it’s important to spend extra time listening to your clients’ needs, checking in with them to keep them informed, and managing expectations.
The increase in client demand for remote communication options is transforming every aspect of the conventional law firm business model, from day-to-day operations to legal marketing strategies to client communication. It is critical that firms understand this landscape to take advantage of new opportunities while also managing the growing pains that will come with it.