The upcoming Virginias Chapter Continuing Marketing Education (CME) Conference features a distinguished faculty of legal and marketing professionals who will guide attendees through the constantly changing world of business, examine how to set and achieve goals, and provide insight into best practices and trends in the legal marketing industry.
We will run a series of faculty blog posts through October, and we start with an entry from legal marketing veteran Larry Bodine, Editor in Chief of Lawyers.com. Larry will moderate “Trends In Legal Marketing” with panelists Emily Krause, Director of Marketing, Allen, Allen, Allen and Allen; Katherine Freeman Jones, Director of Marketing and Communications, Goodman Allen; Janet Davis, Marketing Director, Kaufman and Canoles; Christine Barth, Senior Manager of Marketing & Client Service, Troutman Sanders and Cherie Heintz, Senior Business Development Manager, Hunton Williams. Today, Larry offers insight on where many potential clients go first when looking for a lawyer.
Most Clients Go Online to Look for a Lawyer
By Larry Bodine, Editor in Chief, Lawyers.com
A sea change has occurred in the way clients look for lawyers. Certainly, people still rely on the advice of colleagues, friends and family members. However, new research by LexisNexis has discovered that 3 out of 4 consumers seeking an attorney over the last year used online resources at some point in the process.
The advent of social media, smart phones and search engines has dramatically affected the way consumers find lawyers. Nowadays people communicate via text, email and web meetings. And when they search for a lawyer, they go online.
Think about it. Would a business owner ask a coworker whom to call after being charged with a crime? Would a CEO facing bankruptcy ask a business contact for help shopping for a lawyer? Likely not. These are intensely private affairs that a person prefers to research by opening a laptop. And with smart phones now outselling computers, a wide swath of clients can conduct an online search.
The arrival of social media over the last decade is driving the change in consumer behavior. LinkedIn launched in 2003, Facebook went online in 2004 and Twitter appeared in 2006. Clients can now get input from coworkers and colleagues through online directories like Lawyers.com and social media like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Interestingly, the LexisNexis research found that Facebook is the No. 1 site for clients to gather information about a legal issue, find a lawyer, validate the choice and select the lawyer.
What this means for 21st Century Lawyers
For fee-earners, it is essential to have a website and blog that discuss the legal problems of clients. A professional’s online presence should feature FAQs, white papers and checklists to be found by clients conducing online research.
To that end, LexisNexis helps lawyers in small firms to be found online with Web Site Visibility. It’s worth looking into, because 60% of small law firms reported landing new clients as a result of their blog, according to the American Bar Association.
Professional websites and blogs must be optimized for search engines, particularly Google, so that they rank high in search engine results. A fee earner should ask a marketing specialist to conduct a search engine optimization review, compare the firm site with competitors’ and evaluate whether the site uses the latest best practices.
It is clear that a huge conversation is taking place online. The search for a lawyer has moved out of the company cafeteria or trade association meeting, and moved onto the Internet. For lawyers who want to get leads and find clients, it means having a robust directory profile, activity on social media and client-friendly websites. Lawyers can join the conversation – or miss many opportunities to find clients.
Speaker Bio: Larry Bodine is Editor in Chief of Lawyers.com, the top consumer-focused legal website. This role returned him to his original calling as a journalist, which included serving as Editor and Publisher of the ABA Journal; Assistant Editor for the National Law Journal; and reporter for the New York Daily News, the New Jersey Star-Ledger, Lawyers USA and several other news publications.
For the last 11 years, Larry has worked as a marketing consultant, assisting more than 250 law firms with business development, individual lawyer coaching and website renewal. A former litigator, he was the Director of Communications of Sidley, Austin Brown & Wood for eight years. He practiced law in Madison, Wisconsin and is a cum laude graduate of both Seton Hall University and Amherst College.