What legal consumers want

by NZ Lawyer25 Jul 2016
A survey of American lawyer clients has unveiled a new cohort of picky, informed and connected clients who are ready to second-guess their lawyers.

The Avvo survey polled 1,000 consumers who purchased legal services to discover what attorneys needed to know about the new legal consumer. The conclusion was that clients operated under three drivers:

Informed: access to legal information online has made consumers more savvy than ever. They are reading legal articles, researching legal issues, researching attorneys and visiting legal forums.

Connected: clients have immediate access to other legal consumers online and read reviews about others’ experiences with attorneys.

Picky: consumers know there’s a number of different ways to purchase legal services, including online forms and fixed fee options. They are increasingly attracted to unbundled services.

The survey highlighted the online resources most valued by consumers who are searching for a lawyer. They include, a website with actual cases or court decisions; a government site; a non-government legal resource site; online legal directories, consumer reviews, forums and sites with online forms,

In addition, 95 per cent of the consumers surveyed said that reviews matter in helping them decide who to hire.

The Avvo survey revealed a new wave of information-empowered clients who are likely to be similar in Australasia. For instance, the survey found that 20 per cent of those polled thought their online research made them at least as knowledgeable as their lawyer, and 47 per cent of them only wanted to speak to a lawyer so they could check the online forms they’d already completed.

Of interest to the profession, there were as many respondents prepared to try and solve a problem on their own (42%) as there were people who hired a lawyer (42%). Thirty-seven per cent of the respondents did online research into their issue before approaching a lawyer.

Some law firms are using online forms as a way of getting clients in the door, but the survey says only 33 per cent of those who used an online form engaged a lawyer, although 66 per cent said they became ‘stuck’ at some point with the online form.

Of those who engaged a lawyer, 25 per cent did so by referrals while 31 per cent did it via online searches. Seventy-six per cent of the respondents said they preferred fixed-price billing.