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How Do People Find and Choose a Lawyer? Answers from a Focus Group

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Casey Meraz

We do marketing for law firms. As such, there is nothing more important for us to understand than how people find and hire a lawyer.

We have a ton of data and fancy tools that help with this. But their numbers don’t always tell the whole story. Sometimes, to better understand how people think and why they make the decisions they do, you have to do something crazy: Ask them.

So that’s what we did. We gathered 25 participants and we conducted a good old-fashioned focus group from a specific market. The video below is about 30 minutes long and contains every single response to each question that we asked all of our participants. We suggest you start here, as there are so many great nuggets that ought to get your creative juices flowing:

Next, we’ve distilled all of the responses below so that you can glean quick insights into our findings:

1. Have you ever hired an attorney before? If so, how did you find them?

11 of the 25 participants answered that they had hired an attorney before. Here’s how those 11 found the attorney they hired:


  1. Yes – Yellow Pages
  2. Yes – Through Work
  3. Yes – Through Real Estate Attorney
  4. Yes – Hired via past reference
  5. yes – Through Google
  6. Yes – Referral
  7. Yes – Word of mouth
  8. Yes – Commercial
  9. Yes – Google Search
  10. Yes – friends and family
  11. Yes – Met up with LGBT center

2. What factors are important to you when looking for an attorney?

Word Cloud

A key takeaway here is to not assume that all clients do not define success by the same metrics. Using data like this can help you tailor your marketing efforts to address not just one, but all of your potential clients pain points in your messaging.

Raw responses:

  1. Communication, reviews, price
  2. Specialization in specific case, success rate, locality
  3. Price, recommendations
  4. Proximity, success rate, has my best interest
  5. Reputation and price
  6. Specialization, location
  7. Communication, affordability
  8. Knowlegdable, reviews
  9. Success rate, price
  10. Attentativeness, good report, fees
  11. Competency in the legal matter
  12. Competency in the legal matter
  13. Honesty, affordability
  14. Years of experience, background
  15. Years of experience, price, location, accessability
  16. Case assessement, reputation, price
  17. How long they’ve been in business, multiple state jurisidiction
  18. Reviews, specialization
  19. Reviews, price
  20. Specialization in specific practice
  21. Locality, reviews
  22. Communication, professionalism, reputation
  23. Longevity, success rate
  24. Success rate, qualification, reviews
  25. Honesty, integrity

3. Would you ever look for an attorney online?

4. If you were injured in an accident and needed to hire an attorney, how would you go about finding one?

An interesting takeaway from this data is that even though many of the participants would ask a friend or a family member, they would also look online as a part of their search to make sure they were hiring the right attorney for them.


  1. Yelp, Google
  2. Ask family and friends, then do a Google Search
  3. Ask family and friends
  4. Internet, family and friends
  5. Friends and family, then Google
  6. Friends and family, then Google
  7. Google search
  8. Yelp, Google
  9. Free consultation
  10. Google search
  11. Legal shield
  12. Personal recomendations, then internet search
  13. Google search, then friends
  14. Google search
  15. Ask friends, then Google search
  16. Friends and family, then Google
  17. Friends circle through church
  18. Google Search
  19. Google Search, friends and family
  20. Google Search, friends and family
  21. Friends and family

Interesting comments:

“I would start with a broad search and narrow it down from there.”

“I would look up a local attorney online.”

“I’d look for a lawyer who I have seen on billboards and commercials.”

“I would want to know if they give a free consultation.”

“I’d Google names of people that I’ve heard on the radio.”

“I would Google local people and read reviews.”

“I would talk to my accountant/financial advisor to get a recommendation.”

“I would use and look at the Florida Bar website.”

“I would use the term lawyer accident injury.”

5. What websites would you trust to to find an attorney?

Notice how prominent Google was. It’s also interesting that some people already have an idea of where to look online. This goes back to our theory of barnacle SEO or share of search. You want to be everywhere your potential clients are looking (if it makes sense in your market / budget).


  1. Google, Yelp
  2. Google
  3. Google
  4. Legal shield
  5. Google, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Yahoo
  6. Super
  7. Google
  8. Google
  9. Google
  10. Google
  11. Legal Zoom
  12. Florida Bar, American Bar, Google Search
  13. Legal Shield
  14. Google
  15. Google
  16. Google
  17. Google, Yelp
  18. Google
  19. Santa Clara Bar Asscocaiton

6. Type in what you would type if you were injured and looking for an attorney

This one is for SEO nerds. We asked the same question but got a variety of different responses. A few things to highlight here are:

  • Many of the participants types in a city name, zip code, or state as a geo modifier. [Are you rank tracking these keywords?]
  • Notice how several people used “Near Me” without being promoted
  • Notice how many keyword variations there are even from a small sample size


  1. Injury attorney san francisco
  2. injury attorney near me
  3. local lawyers
  4. injury law group
  5. attorney Christian
  6. injury lawyers
  7. personal injury lawyer bangor Maine
  8. personal injury lawyer tyler, texas
  9. personal injurt lawyer near 39466
  10. personal injury bosrd certified attorney near me
  11. personal injury lawyer san francisco
  12. personal injury lawyer
  13. free consultation injury
  14. personal injurty lawyer sunnyvale
  15. personal injury lawyer san jose
  16. attorney injury san jose
  17. injury lawyer san hose
  18. attorney for injury accident
  19. accident attorney
  20. 1-800-lawyer
  21. bay area best injury lawyer
  22. san jose personal injury attorney

7. Where would you click first in the search results?

If you have the time, make sure to watch these videos. Search behavior is very interesting. Some people skip the ads, some click on the ads and then click to organic, but the search behavior is different between each person.

Key Takeaway: Don’t make assumptions in your market! Test! Also focus on being everywhere you can 🙂


  1. Browse the first few options, would click on the local pack
  2. Would click on
  3. Would scroll down and click on best Hayward lawyers
  4. Would scroll down and click on local links
  5. Would scroll down and click on Florida Bar Association
  6. Would scroll down and click on the local pack and view all
  7. Click on free accident – Ad for
  8. Click on the general questions for a personal injury lawyer
  9. Click on Find Law
  10. Click on Harris Law
  11. Click on the map to locate the nearest attorney
  12. Click on a lawyer entry from the local pack
  13. Search Yelp
  14. Click on an entry in the local pack

Interesting comments:

“I wouldn’t click on Google screened right away because I know those are ads.”

“I would specify car accident lawyer and look at ratings. I’d start with the first entry and realized they had a free consultation.”

“I would check to see how their website looks and how long they have been in business.”

“I would ignore the ads, ignore super lawyers.”

“I noticed the words free and legal.”

“I would want to educate myself on what they do.”

“I immediately noticed the amount of 5-star reviews it has.”

“I would scroll down past the ads.”

8. What factors would you consider before contacting one of these attorneys?

Don’t ignore the importance of reviews from these answers 🙂 but while reviews are important for some, other factors may be important for other clients.


  1. Success rate and website visit. Type of cases they specialize in
  2. Professionalism, website, and fees
  3. Where they place on the listings on the first page
  4. Name of the firm and fees
  5. Human contact vs. call center – Success rate, availability
  6. Experience, testimonials
  7. Ratings and experience
  8. Open office hours and talking to a person, specialization in personal injury
  9. High reviews
  10. Location, rankings, success ratings, small practice or big practice
  11. Reviews
  12. Reviews, fees
  13. Location, years in business
  14. Ratings
  15. Proximity, ratings, reviews, success rate, experience
  16. Specialization
  17. Specialization, reviews, free consultation

9. What would be your preferred method of contacting an attorney?

Interestingly this aligns with our current data where most of our clients cases are signed from phone calls vs. other electronic methods. Make sure you answer your phone promptly and with a personal touch.

Interesting comments:

“I don’t like live chat because I know it’s not a real person”

“Before calling I would want assurance that it’s not a call center”

“I would use send a call request function on Google screened”

That’s all folks!

Was there anything you found especially surprising? What changes would you make to your digital marketing efforts based on these repsonses? Please let us know in the comments!