What Do Clients Look For When Seeking A Lawyer?

The legal marketplace, like the practice of law, is nuanced. There is no survey, short list or expert who can say definitively what every potential new client of every law firm is looking for when they shop. In this post we will look briefly at some of the factors, in no particular order, the most potential clients do consider.

Attorney Shopping: Nuanced based on several factors

It’s unrealistic to think that a consumer shopping for a criminal defense lawyer is going to use the same criteria or selection method as one searching for an estate planning lawyer. A company is going to have different priorities than an individual, which will also be different than what a government entity considers.

Consider this post a fast-food stop along the road of law practice building. The purpose is to do one thing, and one thing along; to get lawyers thinking about what their potential clients think about. Assuming that there’s a demand, in future posts we will delve into the factors that may influence potential clients’ behaviors across a wide range of practice areas.

For now, let’s practice some generalizing.

What potential clients look for when hiring an attorney

Here are some of the things that we’ve identified, presented as if they are coming from your potential clients. If you have others, please use the comments area below and let us know:

  • Rapport – Can I relate to this lawyer? Does he or she seem to get me, my needs and what I’m saying?
  • Presentation – Does this lawyer make a good impression on me? His website? Her office? Does the lawyer’s presentation to me inspire enough confidence in me that the attorney will make me look good?
  • Past results – Has the lawyer gotten good outcomes in cases like mine? If I’m litigating a property issue I don’t give a you-know-what about how awesome the lawyer did in a criminal or personal injury case.
  • Perception of competence (not experience) – It’s not about what you’ve done, it’s about what I think you can do for me.
  • Convenience – Do I have to drive across town? Might be more of a deterrent than you think. Is parking at your office bad (downtown San Fran or Seattle)? Some clients don’t want the hassle.
  • Identification – Can I relate to this lawyer? What makes you, the lawyer, appear human to your potential clients has a lot to do with a very important factor… trust.
  • Trust – Can I trust this lawyer with my money, my freedom, my reputation, my whatever? Trust is about a lot more than badges and ratings. Trust can be built by communication, which requires more listening than talking.
  • Aggressiveness – Is this lawyer aggressive enough? Potential clients usually don’t ask the question that way, but they do want to know that you’ll stand up for them.
  • Cost – While cost is a factor, we believe that it is not the compelling factor for most potential clients in most types of cases. In a nutshell, for most potential clients, price doesn’t count.

About The Author

Attorney Dan Jaffe previously built successful small law practices in WA and AZ. He currently serves as the CEO of LawLytics.

Other posts by Dan.