In our recent series about educating legal consumers for conversion, we reviewed the importance of being transparent with clients about fees (including the total cost of representation), clearly elucidating expertise (including in niche practice areas) and educating clients about the legal process.
But’s it’s also useful to talk about why these three aspects of client conversion are at the forefront of modern law firm marketing. What a lot of attorneys tend to overlook or ignore is the massive experience and education gaps between lawyers and consumers as respects the legal industry. Many consumers only utilize a lawyer once in their lifetimes. It is the rare legal consumer (perhaps a small business owner) who is a serial user of law firm services. There are, of course, a bunch of people who will never hire a lawyer, or will only hire a lawyer to create a will or buy a house, for example. Given that reality, it’s not a surprise that legal consumers are looking for guidance, primarily, when they reach out to a law firm. And, they’re seeking that guidance, at what may be the most stressful period of their lives. The lawyer those potential clients choose will be a helpful resource, who can provide answers, as well as curing the chaos in what, again, is probably the most painful segment of that person’s entire life. It’s important that practicing attorneys always keep that in mind.
Add to the general lack of knowledge about the legal process the fact that most legal consumers know very little idea about law firm pricing. And, given that legal services are shockingly expensive, in comparison to almost everything else consumers pay for, that sticker shock has to be alleviated by some level of price certainty. In point of fact, it’s very difficult to get someone to pay for legal services if their main comparison for pricing consumer services is a Disney+ subscription that costs less than $100 per year. Making the argument that a legal consumer, especially an unrefined one, should pay more than 3 or 4 times that for a single hour of an attorney’s time, is a difficult and continuing sell. Even on subscription services, law firms aren’t cheap. Truly, then, every conversation a lawyer has with a client is a sales conversation. How can you convince your potential client that these fees are actually and consistently reasonable? How do you convince your clients that they’re still receiving value, when they get the bill . . . and, after a contentious meeting . . . and, when something does not goes as planned . . . Fortunately, lawyers are good at making arguments: they just need to get better at making these sorts of arguments.
In the end, a law firm’s primary responsibility for lead conversion and client retention is the same: consumer education is paramount. And so, it’s time for law firms to focus on what they can teach their potential clients, and so set the tone for the entire attorney-client relationship to come.