Legal Consumer Research

Legal Consumer Research: How Do Customers Decide On a Lawyer?

Even though the United States has 70% of the world’s lawyers, it can be difficult for clients to find the right legal representation.

High stress situations like the death of a spouse, divorce, marital separation, and imprisonment require a legal team that takes clients seriously, emphasizes customer service, and doesn’t wreck their budget while working the case.

Your potential clients are drowning in options for legal representation, and your firm needs to stand out.  

So what exactly are customers looking for in a lawyer?

Clio, a leading provider of legal management software, has conducted an extensive survey on what exactly consumers are thinking in their 2017 Legal Trend Report. Above the Law says, “The completely data-driven Legal Trends Report is simultaneously the most comprehensive and the most granular analysis of lawyer activity ever published.”

According to Clio’s Legal Trends Report 2017, choosing a lawyer is based on a few factors.


67% of surveyed customers said they choose a law firm if they promptly answer the first call or email.

Since this first impression is crucial, you need to make sure this first interaction is as streamlined as possible. Customers That Stick offer up 7 ways to deliver a faster experience, but caution that you need to strike a balance between saving time and providing excellent service.


The second highest response when it comes to choosing a lawyer has to do with the first time consultation. 64% said they choose a firm that offers free first-time consults.

It might seem counter intuitive to offer your time for free, but if so many people are willing to base their decision making on this one option, it’s worth considering. While there are pros and cons for free consultations, a lot of the effect can be looked at either way.

For example, one issue with a free consultation is attracting “tire kickers”, or clients just shopping around and not committing to actually choosing your firm. However, this also gives you the opportunity to check them out and see if they will be a good fit to work with, which can help you avoid potential conflict and save time in the long run.


There’s a high the demand for fixed fees; 49% of poll responders said that having a set cost would help make a law firm their first choice.

Above the Law has an in-depth list with tips on how to make sure you’re doing fixed fees right. If you’re clear when defining the work that qualifies with the fixed rate, you should still make your profit on the case.

The other main focuses are on finances and customer service. 28% of clients choose a firm if they accept credit card, 27% if they have positive text message exchanges, and 19% if they have a great looking website.


The overwhelming response for the majority of customers is a need for excellent service.

Clients want to be treated like their time is valuable, and it can be a delicate balance making sure your time is valued as well.

Since “stress in the legal profession is well-documented,” according to the American Bar, you might feel like providing top notch service on top of your current workload is impossible.

There’s good news: the solution is outsourcing.

By hiring a team outside of your office, you can ensure your marketing, social media, and reception are being handled professionally while you can focus on the case and the courtroom.

This is a game changer for many professionals, especially lawyers.  In such a demanding and fast paced industry, you need to be keeping up with your competition. Instead of hiring an in-house receptionist or putting your personal number out there and trying to manage it yourself, consider a virtual one. At 1/10th of the cost, you’ll be saving money for yourself and, as a result, for your clients.

Since 2 out of 3 people polled said they choose a firm based on a prompt answer to their first call or email, you need to make sure your team is available 24-7.

With so many options for legal representation out there, it can be difficult to stand out.

However, if you keep your clients’ decision making processes in mind, your firm will be ahead of the competition.

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