A new survey by FindLaw, a lawyer directory owned by Thomson Reuters, indicates that the internet is now the most popular way to find and research a lawyer.
Bear in mind that the survey was for consumers, rather than businesses, but it revealed that 38 percent of people said they would use the internet to help them find a lawyer.
The next biggest selection was ask a friend or relative (29 percent), with the local bar association and Yellow Pages attracting small percentages.
Surprisingly, 15 percent of respondents said that they wouldn’t bother to research other lawyers if they already had a relationship with a lawyer.
Interestingly, FindLaw contrasts its latest results with a similar survey in 2005, when only seven percent of people said they would use the internet to find a lawyer – the fourth option and a long way behind asking a friend or relative at 65 percent.
Here are the full survey results.
The ABA Journal commented on the findings.
Kevin O’Keefe agreed that the internet has changed the game, although believes the importance of turning to someone you trust (friend, relative, co-worker, social network acquaintance) is underrated when looking to find the name of an attorney.
He referenced a 2011 ABA survey that found 46 percent of consumers said they would ask a friend, family member or colleague as the primary means of locating an attorney.
In February this year, I covered another study by a marketing agency on how people choose professional services providers.
That particular report by Hinge Marketing – Beyond Referrals: How Today’s Buyers Check You Out – involved 1,000 purchasers of professional services.
The top three results:
Look at their website – 80%
Search online/Google – 63%
Ask friends/colleagues – 62%
The report also found that 70% of those surveyed use LinkedIn to check out a prospective professional services provider.
Recommendations from friends and colleagues, while still important to some, are less influential than they once were.
These days, people are less likely to rely on the word of one friend or family member, who may say they had a good experience, but speak from a narrow perspective and have no comparative sense of how that provider stacks up against others.
Like consumers, savvy buyers of commercial legal services will use the internet in the same way to develop a shortlist, narrow a shortlist down, and arm themselves with information before approaching a particular lawyer or firm.
(Pictured: “Village Lawyer” by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, 1621)