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Choosing a solicitor: what do clients look for?

choosing a solicitorWhen your potential clients are thinking about choosing a solicitor, what is really going through their minds?

For many legal practices or sole practitioners, that really is the 64,000 dollar question. However, it’s not a dark, impenetrable mystery. Many ideas abound, but the Solicitors Regulation Authority commissioned research to study the phenomenon which you can refer to here.

What influences prospective clients?

When clients feel they have a need for legal services, the key aspects involved in making their choice are:

  • Recommendation from family, friends or other trusted associates.
  • The fact that they carry out little other research outside this close group. They rarely compare several providers against each other.
  • Loyalty. Clients will go back to a previous provider rather than venture into the unknown.
  • Price. It is not as big a determinant as you would imagine.

However, there is one additional point to throw in here regarding returning clients. A large proportion of consumers’ needs for legal assistance are driven by contentious cases such as divorce, employment disputes and other litigation. If a client wins his or her case, he or she will be pleased with your service and not care a jot about the opposition. Lose the action and both yourself and the opposition solicitors will be figures of mistrust.

What else do they consider?

Although the recommendation appears to be the key factor, other determinants include:

  • The experience of the solicitor in the type of law they need.
  • The long-established reputation of the firm or, at least, the impression of one.
  • A long, successful track record on the part of the individual solicitor in the area of law required.
  • Good customer service.

Like price, customer service comes lower down the list, but the same point applies in litigious matters. Lose the case and the service will be considered poor and the price high.

What impact does your marketing have?

choosing a solicitorMarketing signage, online presence and the ease with which you can be contacted all play their part.

However, once again, it is the obvious details such as having the word solicitor(s) in your firm’s name and having your telephone number prominently displayed on your website that influence consumer clients.

The average prospective client often finds it difficult to decide which solicitors have the necessary experience to handle their case and tend to assume that all legal professionals are qualified to handle the work.

With this in mind, it pays dividends to set out your office signage and, above all, your website, to prominently display the types of work you provide. Recommendations from happy clients and professional memberships carry significant weight also. For further information on how to maximise your website’s potential, take a look at the two articles at the end of this post.

What can you do to help clients make the right choice?

In addition to the points listed above, it’s all about creating confidence in the minds of prospective clients. To achieve this, the following suggestions may be helpful:

  • Address the issue of likely fees and billing procedures at the outset.
  • Provide consumer clients with payment options and deadlines where appropriate.
  • Manage their expectations. Talk them through the timescale of the work.
  • Keep them informed of progress regularly. Use technology to do this if you have the capacity to do so.
  • Point them in the direction of the appropriate regulatory authority so that they can check your regulated status.
  • Provide them with a copy of the complaint procedure should the need arise.

And, when all that is done and dusted and you have completed the work for a new or return client, ask them how they found your service and use their responses to help you make improvements.

Mike O’Donnell, January 2017.

Marketing for Lawyers: #1 Getting your homepage right

Marketing for Lawyers: #2 Search Engine Optimisation

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