With a total of 1.3 million lawyers in the United States, 500,000 are small firms that struggle to gain visibility. An increase of nearly 15% of lawyers nationally in the past ten years has made it even harder to generate new business.
The American Bar Association says that 49% of law firms say their best marketing channel is buying web leads. This means they purchase leads from other companies because they don’t know how to get their own leads. The truth is that attorneys haven’t figured out how to market themselves. Most firms are paying top dollar for a process that can be costly and ineffective.
According to Martindale’s The State of Online Marketing in the Legal Industry, 65% of law firm respondents spent over half of their marketing budgets on online initiatives. While 70.7% of lawyer respondents said they replied to leads within one hour, only about half of those did so within 15 minutes—the crucial window when the prospect will be the most engaged. While most firms had some way of tracking leads, 25% of law firms didn’t track leads at all.
Booking the consultation is everything. Some attorneys don’t like doing consultations, but the truth is, while the attorney is spending their time, it is also an opportunity to pitch their services. According to Law Technology Today, 64% of consumers said they’d choose a firm that offers free first-time consultations. Furthermore, Clio’s Legal Trends Report 2017 states that 67% of customers said they would choose a law firm if the law firm promptly answers the first call or email. Martindale’s presentation Best Practices for Winning More Clients says that 22% of consumers hire an attorney within the first week of submitting a lead.
Small practices and solo attorneys have a lot of work to do when it comes to increasing visibility amongst prospective clients. Yellow Pages, subway, taxi advertising and classified ads are no longer influential to modern consumers. Referrals aren’t what they used to be, as few people want to discuss their upcoming bankruptcy, DUI or divorce problems with their friends and colleagues. People find and select attorneys far differently than they once did. The convenience of technology, reviews and ease of booking are key factors in making a purchase decision for today’s consumers.
For attorneys, this is good news: it means that using simple, cost-effective legaltech tools, it’s possible to increase leads and drive new business, without spending a lot of time on networking, asking for referrals and as the saying goes, chasing ambulances. Solos and small firms may not have resources or time to dedicate to new business development, which is often costly, time consuming and difficult to book consultations—so today we must rely on the tools that consumers are using.
Legaltech tools should empower individual attorneys and small practices to book consultations. Consultations lead to closed deals and new revenue. Instead of waiting for the phone to ring, to receive emails, and have support staff book consultations, let legaltech do the work: the customer can book a consultation directly with the attorney. Since it has access to the attorney’s availability, the consumer simply selects the appointment at a mutually convenient time and date—with no calendar invites or dial-ins to send.
In spite of increased competition and myriad “a la carte” online services, there will always be a need for the one-on-one attorney and client relationship. Instead of glorified phone-book style websites, attorneys should utilize today’s legal-industry technologies that connect them directly with clients. By embracing technology to do the dirty work—from generating leads, booking consultations and getting the foundation needed to turn them into a customer—attorneys may focus on the important part, getting justice for their clients.