How Consumers Meet Their Legal Needs Online

FindLaw used an independent research group to conduct additional in-depth quantitative research to investigate the legal needs of consumers across the country and the process/actions consumers initiated and acted upon.

Most Consumers Have Legal Needs
More than half of consumers surveyed (56%) had a legal need in the past two years. In addition, consumers feel a sense of urgency: seventy-seven percent of consumers with legal needs said their legal need was extremely or very urgent.

Today’s consumers are not passively sitting and waiting for the legal issues to resolve themselves.
Armed with legal information and expert support (often secured from legal resources on the Internet), an overwhelming majority of consumers are fighting for their legal rights, 64% of consumers surveyed said they were willing to go to court to fight for their rights.  Thirty-six percent said they were willing to pursue legal issues regardless of time or cost.

When consumers have a legal issue, timing is everything. Of those who contracted a legal professional, 38% addressed their legal need the same day it arose; another 24% addressed the legal need the same week.

Consumers Turning to the Internet for Legal Help
It comes as no surprise that the same consumers who visit online job sites, check the weather, listen to podcasts and plan personal travel online are also finding the Internet a credible resource for legal and other professional help.

According to the Thomson FindLaw research, eighty-four percent of consumers with a legal need who did research used the Internet, far more than those who relied on friends and family, libraries or local bar associations.  How do consumers find the legal information they need online? Eighty-eight percent of them begin with a search engine -- Google is the most popular -- and 31% use legal information/directory Web sites like  Another 30% of consumers look for Web sites that focus on legal specialties, such as attorney/law firm sites.

Almost half of the consumers who used the Internet to access information about their legal issue decided to contact an attorney or law firm. Others used the Internet to validate an attorney or law firm referral from a friend or coworker. Still others accessed a variety of Web sites to get more information about various attorneys and law firms.

While many consumers initially address their legal issues on their own, 15% of those with a legal need contact a legal professional. What’s more, 70% of those who contacted an attorney decided to hire an attorney.

An attorney’s expertise in the particular legal field was the single most important factor in choosing an attorney—more than recommendations from others or the cost of the attorney.

Outcome Among Consumers Who Contacted An Attorney
Hired an attorney - 70%
Still deciding - 9%
Advised matter not worth pursuing - 7%
Legal issue resolved - 4%
Represented self - 3%
Attorney refused case - 2%
Decided not to pursue - 1%
Other - 4%
Source: Thomson Reuters FindLaw

Factors in Choosing an Attorney
The attorney’s expertise in the particular legal field you needed - 53%
Recommendations from others  - 41%
The cost that the attorney or law firm would charge - 36%
How fast the attorney responded to you - 35%
Gained a sense of trust from the attorney - 30%
The reputation of the entire law firm - 26%
How optimistic the attorney was regarding the outcome - 26%
Location of firm - 20%
Length of time in practice - 19%
Size of firm - 4%
Source: FindLaw, A Thomson Reuters business

Of those consumers who contacted an attorney or law firm, over half (56%) contacted only one attorney to try to resolve their legal need.
Consumer reliance on the Internet to find legal information and counsel is likely to continue to grow. Over half (57%) of respondents said there were satisfied with the Internet as a source of legal information. And the vast majority (80%) of consumers who searched for legal information on the Internet responded that they would be likely to use the Internet as a legal resource in the future.
FindLaw, a Thomson Reuters business, helps law firms use the Internet to connect with more well-qualified clients. As a division of West, FindLaw creates Web sites and other online marketing strategies that combine technological expertise with a deep knowledge of the legal industry. FindLaw’s Web specialists and local consultants provide the service and innovative solutions to make every law firm stand out from the crowd, turning the power of the Internet into effective client-development tools for attorneys. For more information about law firm marketing, visit or call 866-44-FINDLAW (866-443-4635).