Getting to the bottom of Hispanic clients’ unique legal needs (part 1)

A lawyer meeting with a Hispanic client

With the U.S. Hispanic population continuing to grow in number, economic power, and influence, there is no question that this demographic represents a promising, untapped market for law firms of all sizes across the country. In order to effectively reach and serve Hispanic clients, small law firms must first learn about their legal needs, communication preferences, and who they really are.

While the findings of our 2021 Hispanic Consumer Legal Needs Survey can illuminate a lot of this information, it doesn’t really explore what drives these results. Small law firms should dig deeper to gain a true understanding of why today’s Hispanic legal consumers have these needs and preferences. This two-part series will explore the real reasons behind Hispanic legal consumers’ needs so that attorneys can approach these potential clients with greater empathy and respect.

Why Hispanic consumers have distinct legal needs

What we found: 67% of Hispanics seek legal help for immigration or car accidents.

Immigrants make up 33% of the U.S. Hispanic population (19.8 million), and the U.S.-born children of immigrants make up 67% (40.6 million), as reported by the Pew Research Center. It follows that immigration is the top legal issue for Hispanics, in contrast to the very minor role this issue plays for the general population.

Adding to individual immigration needs, Nielsen research shows that 27% of Hispanics live in multigenerational family households, which means many are significantly engaged in familial concerns including the diverse immigration needs of extended family members. The Hispanic demand for immigration legal services continues to grow in incidence and importance, with 11% of respondents in our 2021 survey indicating that their motivation for seeking immigration legal services was to avoid deportation.

Meanwhile, the prevalence of car accidents as a top Hispanic legal need correlates with data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which shows a higher incidence of DUI infractions, motor vehicle crashes, and related fatalities overall among the younger Hispanic population.

On the other hand, Hispanics show less concern than the general population regarding will preparation and estate planning, with the National Institutes of Health indicating that the demographic’s rate of advance directive completion has failed to see an increase in recent years. Researchers have speculated that Hispanics’ lack of estate planning is the result of a cultural tendency to entrust their end-of-life care decisions to family members verbally, rather than through a written estate plan document.

Real estate form preparation is also of lesser priority for Hispanic legal consumers due to their disproportionately lower rate of homeownership. Many of the most prevalent homeownership barriers Hispanics face are attributable to the demographic’s lower average age. However, because credit scores, income, and household wealth all improve with age, the likelihood for Hispanic homeownership growth over the next five years remains strong.

While immigration issues and motor vehicle accidents represent the two most common legal issues for Hispanics, this is a complex demographic with increasingly diverse legal needs and growing demand for a variety of legal services.

Why Hispanics legal consumers take action quickly

What we found: 63% of Hispanic legal consumers contact an attorney within a week.

Like the general population, Hispanics are driven to take legal action primarily to avoid future legal difficulties by gaining competent representation in a timely manner. But because of the complex and critical nature of their most prevalent legal needs—immigration and car accidents—Hispanics generally react to these more quickly. In fact, more than one-quarter of our semi-acculturated Hispanic survey respondents informed us that have taken legal action within a single day.

Our survey shows that Hispanics who contact a legal professional or organization are most likely to get in touch with an attorney or law firm. As compared to the general population, Hispanics appear to be less comfortable handling legal situations on their own, tending to seek representation from an attorney or expert guidance from independent paralegals and document preparation services as soon as their needs arise.

Keeping in mind that Hispanic legal consumers tend to have more pressing, time-sensitive legal concerns, law firms should always respond to new client inquiries quickly and be prepared to hit the ground running with immediate legal assistance to address these with urgency.

Why Hispanic legal consumers will consider multiple lawyers

What we found: 67% of Hispanics contacted more than one lawyer.

In contrast to the general population, Hispanics tend to consider a larger number of attorneys when seeking representation, with 67% of respondents contacting up to three lawyers before choosing one. Hispanics’ inclination to “shop around” for the best legal service rates available is consistent with the demographic’s overall consumer tendency to seek exclusive offers, coupons, and discounts in the marketplace.

Nielsen research shows that for Hispanic consumers, confidence in value and savings is an important factor influencing a decision to purchase. 64% of Hispanics agree that they like to compare prices across different sites before purchasing something online, and more than one-third (36%) agree that they only purchase products online when they have a coupon or promotional code. However, our survey also found that Hispanics consider multiple attorneys due to dissatisfaction with poor response time or lack of response from attorneys and law firms they have contacted with urgency.

Keeping in mind that Hispanic legal consumers have more pressing, time-sensitive legal needs and will consider multiple attorneys based on financial considerations, law firms should be prepared to address new client inquiries with an empathetic, flexible approach to adjusting rates to win their business.

Next week we will explore the drivers behind Hispanic legal consumers’ reliance on their phones, preference for finding legal help online, and a surprising indifference for Spanish communication.

To learn more about listing your firm on and connecting with Hispanic clients, read our new in-depth guide, Increasing ppportunity: How law firms can forge strategic connections with Hispanic clients.

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