Things To Know About The Legal Consumer In 2017

Each year, FindLaw conducts our U.S. Consumer Legal Needs Survey. The survey helps us understand the “end user” that our own customers serve. It also provides our attorney clients insight into the motivations of legal consumers and the methods they use to find and select an attorney.

And while this year looked to be more of the same from legal consumers, there are a few big questions to consider as law firms position themselves for the coming new year.

Where are your clients looking?

Well … down apparently.

A hefty 71 percent of survey respondents are using their mobile phones to search for an attorney or other legal solution. Just walking down the street will show you that this trend isn’t much of a surprise, but it does underscore the importance of marketing your firm with a mobile consumer in mind.

Beyond that, they’re looking on legal directories – where 41 percent of respondents began their searches this year. True, search engines still rule the day in general, but legal directories hold the number two slot among consumers. That bodes well for attorneys facing an ever more competitive search marketplace. Positioning yourself well on a directory isn’t quite the cat herding exercise that traditional SEO has become.

Lastly, it appears that more than half of these potential clients (58 percent) are looking for action. What I mean by that is, these folks are moving quickly to get in touch with an attorney within a week of their legal incident. This behavior is consistent with our previous research and continues to indicate that the attorneys who succeed at gaining clients in 2017 will be those that respond with the same degree of urgency.

What are they looking for?

Just as important as being in the right place is having the right message. In 2017, that message should include a combination of accessibility and credibility.

Accessibility means emphasizing your local presence both in general and on social media. Why? Because fully 78 percent of legal consumers surveyed consider it important to hire a local attorney. And 54 percent would likely hire an attorney who is active on social media. These clients are looking for someone real. They’re looking for an attorney who knows where they’re coming from – literally and figuratively. Make sure your online listings and social accounts reflect this desire.

Lastly, they’re also looking for someone who knows their stuff. Forty-five percent of legal consumers say your expertise is the top factor when they’re searching for representation. But here’s the fun part, they’ll take someone else’s word for it. In fact, 67 percent of the consumers we spoke to say that online attorney reviews are “a top criteria” for them. Put the two facts together and you’ll see that some of your best promoters are the clients you’ve already served.

So maybe 2017 isn’t going to be a revolutionary year in legal consumer behavior. Frankly, I’m fine with this news. It gives us another year to hone our craft and become even more effective at connecting law firms with people who need legal help.


  1. Great data.
    Is the full 2016 U.S. Consumer Legal Needs Survey report available online? If so, can you post or email me the link. I’ve read some of the previous. Fascinating and tres tres helpful!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Bill.
    I’m glad you like the previous reports. The full 2016 report isn’t online right now, but I’m certain we’ll be releasing more insights in the future. When that happens, I’ll update this post with the appropriate links.

Schedule Your Appointment

An accurate Zip Code ensures your appointment is set with the correct local marketing consultant.


Learn how to work smarter, not harder.
Schedule a coaching session with our legal marketing experts and receive a gourmet coffee gift card absolutely free! No sales pitches. No Games. Just great advice.