Recently, my husband went on a quest to find a lawyer to advise him on his real estate investment ventures. We have a lawyer we like and trust for our basic legal needs (wills, residential real estate, etc.) but the time had come to find a lawyer with more expertise in the particular intersection of tax, business, and real estate.
We couldn’t think of anyone we knew who might be able make a personal recommendation. So, ever the researcher, my husband spent several hours online, checking out lawyer bios at various local law firms. He narrowed his pool down to two or three lawyers and did some more research. Ultimately, he called one lawyer, and after a phone call, felt confident in retaining him.
Is this the typical way that consumers seek out a new lawyer? Based on Mike Blumenthal’s research for Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law, yes, it is!
The commissioned research surveyed 1500 US consumers. According to Blumenthal,
“Here are some top level take aways:
- Word of mouth from clients is critically important
- Search engines are the most likely source for new clients
- Facebook offers little value in finding new clients
- The print Yellow Pages, while not as likely to be used as the search engines, still have some life in the legal industry. This is particularly true in the MidWest and amongst older clients
- Google reviews are 3x more likely to influence a decision than Yelp
- A website and online reviews play a critical role once the consumer makes it to Google
For us at Stem, these findings reinforce what we always tell our clients: any particular services, strengths, or specialties you want to be found for in the search engines MUST be included in the written copy of your practice pages and lawyer biographies. These two areas of a firm’s website are critical first points of contact for internet searchers but are rarely written with this in mind.
Also of interest was the question “If you Search for a specialty lawyer on the internet what is most important to you?“. The #1 response was “Information elsewhere about them on the internet”. A well-written bio is the first step in making sure a potential client can find you, but this particular finding highlights just how important it is to optimize your social media profiles and publish broadly across many channels, too.
Let’s go back to the example of my husband’s search for a specialty lawyer. Once he found a lawyer bio that he thought sounded good, what sealed the deal for him was finding online materials, like blog posts and conference papers, this lawyer had written that demonstrated the expertise and experience in the areas of law my husband needed advice on. If the cake is the lawyer bio, then this complementary information is the icing on it.
Of course, this is just one account of one person’s own search behavior. But it is satisfying how closely it matches the results of Blumenthal’s research, and confirms some of the key messages we try to send clients about building reputation online: write your bio for your clients’ eyes, and publish widely on the topics you want to be known for.