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4 Reasons Why Lawyers Aren’t Working More Online

The Sociable Lawyer conducted a survey of 100 attorneys who attended the New York Sociable Lawyer Meet Up on October 12, 2010. We asked them the size of their firms, how much time they spend looking for clients, how much of that time they spend online, and what they feel the key issue keeping lawyers from working more online might be. View the slideshow for a breakdown of our survey results.

Here are the top four reasons survey respondents gave for why lawyers are not working more online, along with the Sociable Lawyer’s solutions.

1. Lack of trust

Just as you vet the clients that walk through your office door, you should vet the clients that appear in your email inbox. Ask for proper identification, and try to determine their interest in and ability to pay for your services. Go ahead and investigate Facebook and Linkedin. Remember that you’re working with a real person even if you’ve never meet face-to-face.

A separate issue that many attorneys encounter is the problem of gaining clients’ trust online. This is imperative if the attorney is to operate a virtual law practice.

A few easy steps to build trust online:

  • Be accessible: Allow people to contact you quickly and easily by putting your contact information in an easy to find place on your website. Respond to client emails within 24 hours.
  • Use client testimonials: Client testimonials show potential clients that you’re the real deal. If you can, link to the satisfied client’s website or Facebook page.
  • Publish a blog: Regular blogging is a great way to display your expertise and personality for all to see. If you don’t have the time to maintain your own blog, contribute to another (like The Sociable Lawyer!)
  • Build a Facebook page and Linkedin profile.
  • Be a face: Make sure you have a smiling, professional headshot wherever you exist online. Humans are programmed to read faces; a good photograph can go a long way toward building trust.

2. Too much work involved in acquiring clients online

Finding clients online allows for varying degrees of involvement from simple “contact us” forms on law firm websites to intensive advertising campaigns. Some lawyers pay referral services to find clients online for them.

A few techniques for acquiring clients online:

  • Place a “contact us” form on each page of your website and blog.
  • Publish regular blog entries, and post on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Register your office location with Google Places.
  • Write free legal help resources for sites like Rocket Lawyer.
  • Do Pro Bono work for a reputable non-profit.

3. Not enough technical knowledge / Not comfortable enough with the technology to work online

Easy to use technology solutions are abundant. WordPress.com is a great blogging engine. Facebook and Twitter walk themselves. Virtual Law Practice technology is rapidly improving and requires no special expertise on the part of the attorney. For those who are still hesitant, consider hiring a tech-savvy assistant.

4. Not enough potential clients in the online space

According to the New York State Bar Association Journal, 65 percent of people seeking legal representation search for an attorney online before looking anywhere else. As future generations that have never known a world without the Internet mature and encounter legal needs of their own, that number will only increase.

For those of you who didn’t attend our NYC event, we’d love to hear your opinions too. Tell us, what do you think prevents lawyers from working more online?

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One Comment

  1. Sylvia I. Onyejekwe, Esq. says:

    It is very difficult to get acclimated with the online culture if you are used to the archaic ways of doing things. I know of many very knowledgeable lawyers, who simply have an aversion to the internet. The internet to them is this mystical, high technical world in which is forbidden to even the simplest minded person. This fear is not limited to those lawyers who are older and more adept, but this also applies to the younger generation of lawyers as well. Further, there simply are not enough legal referral companies available that offer high quality clients or great returns for the investment. In addition, understanding online marketing, such as Google, yahoo, etc… is difficult and if you do learn it, it still cannot guarantee the results you are looking for. I simply advise those lawyers who find maneuvering through the internet a challenging process, to sign up with a referral service, like Rocket Lawyer, that handles that maneuverability. However, the internet, in my opinion, is the best place to gain clients. Learning how to gain them is the issue. Referral companies take that hassle away from those of us who do not have time to advertise online, but know how. They also provide good leads for those who do not know how to utilize the internet. Finally, lawyers are lawyers, not marketers or advertisers – leave that job to those who do it and do it well.