For years lawyers have paid big fees to Martindale-Hubbell, Avvo and Super Lawyers in hopes of generating clients and favorable ratings. It turns out the people have spoken and new research indicates that potential clients rely on Yelp as the #1 trusted site to find a lawyer.
Martindale-Hubbell, Avvo and Super Lawyers were much less trusted and used by people seeking an attorney, according to a new survey report by Software Advice, a software research company in Austin, TX.
"Yelp is the most commonly used site to search for attorney reviews online—58 percent of respondents in our sample said it was the first place they turn. It's also the website that 61 percent of users view as the most trustworthy," says Chantelle Wallace, Managing Editor of Software Advice.
This is dramatic news considering that most consumers go online to look for an attorney. In fact, the new survey finds that 83% of consumers use online review sites as the first step in searching for an attorney. Furthermore:
- 90% of Customers Say Buying Decisions Are Influenced By Online Reviews
- 79% Of Consumers Trust Online Reviews As Much As Personal Recommendations
A smart tactic for lawyers is to ask current clients to write reviews about you online. "Consider asking clients to leave a review after you've had a positive in-person consultation with them, or after their case has been favorably settled."
Also, emphasize the information that is most important to clients clients in an online review: the quality of the service you provide. This includes how well an attorney explains legal options to a client, and an attorney's win/loss record.
A key takeaway from this data is the importance of providing great service to your clients—enough so that they're motivated to mention this in an online review.
"It's also essential to respond constructively to negative comments to help keep your overall ratings high. Most sites, Yelp included, permit you to publicly respond to negative reviews."
Responsiveness is also important to potential clients, so that establishing a rapid response policy for all client communication is critical. Information that is not important to clients is attorney certifications, education, age or gender.
A key takeaway is that the majority of clients will go far out of their way to get to a lawyer who has better reviews.
"A whopping 70 percent of respondents in our sample said they would consider going to an attorney in an inconvenient part of town if he or she had better online reviews than one closer to home. This certainly speaks to the importance of positive reviews in attracting new clients."
Finally, smart lawyers will institute a client onboarding process that asks how people heard about your practice. "Those who found you through an online review site may be more likely to leave a review given their familiarity with these resources, so be sure to ask for one."
Software Advice surveyed a random sample of adults in the U.S. Researchers collected 385 unique responses to each of nine questions, giving a total of 3,465 responses.