In part 1 of this article, we learned that the new legal consumer is an online consumer who is informed, connected and picky. In part 2, we’ll first look at some statistics that will help us better understand the new legal consumers. Then we’ll have a look at how to accommodate them.
The research done by avvo.com reveals new patterns of behaviour of online legal consumers, as the following statistics illustrate.
What are they doing online?
- 42% are doing their own legal research online.
- 31% are doing research on the lawyers whose services they consider using.
- 17% are using online legal forms to solve their problems.
- 16% visit legal forums to get assistance with their legal issues.
How do they solve legal problems? The new legal consumers first try to solve their problems on their own.
- 42% solve the problem on their own.
- 42% hire a lawyer.
Interestingly, 20% of the interviewees thought they would end up knowing as much as a lawyer about their issue by doing online research.
While trying to solve their legal problem, they’re also looking for free online advice:
- 32% get a free consult.
- 21% get free advice from a lawyer by phone or email.
- 15% call a legal help line.
Of those who use legal forms,
- 66% get stuck at some point,
- 39% get a consult from a lawyer, and
- 33% end up hiring a lawyer.
How are they finding lawyers?
- 31% find a lawyer by doing online research.
- 25% find a lawyer through referrals, but 45% of those will then still first research the lawyer online.
Significant in this context is that 95% of those looking for a lawyer consider online reviews important. 45% even labelled online reviews ‘very important.’
56% of legal consumers say they value a hotline that connects them directly to a lawyer.
76% of respondents also said they prefer fixed fee billing.
Accommodating the new legal consumers
So what can we learn from all this to help us accommodate the new legal consumers? In his report, Nika Kabiri advises to reach the consumers where they are and to give them what they’re looking for. Stephen Furnari (from Law Firm Suites, www.lawfirmsuites.com) suggests a three-pronged approach to achieve this. The key words are: cultivate / offer / engage.
Cultivate online consumers: make sure you have a strong online presence. If allowed, publish online reviews by your customers, and/or use review sites. Offer assistance via email and chat, either online or on mobile.
Offer what they are looking for: offer unbundled services, where they can ask your assistance, e.g., for one specific item. Offer fixed fee projects. Offer to review forms and documents. Offer strategy sessions.
Engage with online consumers: offer on-demand services. Answer legal questions online. Participate in discussions on online forums and/or community chats that deal with legal matters.
This three-pronged approach of cultivating and engaging with consumers, and adapting the services you offer, will help converting online consumers into customers.
- Nika Kabiri, Sink or swim: How to adapt to the New Legal Consumer, 27 April 2016, avvo.com; avvo.com/new-legal-consumer-download