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Lead Generation for Lawyers: Guide and Best Lead Generation Services

updated
June 16, 2022
20 min
read
Sales

Marketing competition among law firms is stiff. On top of legal content creation and SEO for lawyers, one focus area we are seeing is a growing spotlight on obtaining quality leads. The goal of lead generation for attorneys is a pipeline of interested potential clients. Because not all leads are clients that a lawyer can represent or wants to represent (for various reasons), having a selection of quality leads to choose from is generally preferred. 

Leads are potential clients who contact you or enquire about your legal services. Leads may find your law firm in several ways, including: 

  • When their Google search leads them to your website
  • When they click on a paid ad on another website
  • When they find your website through your social media channel
  • When they provide their contact information on another legal website, which provides their contact information to you. 

While this article focuses primarily on online lead generation strategies, generating leads offline is still possible. For example, if you participate in traditional marketing, such as bus bench advertising or magazine ads, you may generate leads from people who have never visited your law firm’s website. With effective law firm digital marketing and lead generation strategies, many lawyers find traditional marketing tactics unnecessary and not cost-effective. 

What Does Lead Generation for Lawyers Mean?

Industries have different terms for the stages of the sales funnel. In legal marketing, a lead generally is a potential client who contacts a law firm about the services they offer. In other words, leads are people who are (or will be in the future) actively seeking the services a law firm provides. 

The goal of law firm marketing strategies is to generate leads. A potential client will become a lead when they reach out to a law firm in several ways, including: 

  • Calling the law firm to schedule a consultation
  • Filling out a contact form 
  • Leaving a comment on a blog post
  • Responding to a live chat box on a website
  • Sending an email / replying to an email newsletter.

For many law firms, a free consultation is a common value offering to generate leads and have conversations with potential clients. A consultation may be provided over the phone, via a Zoom/video call, or in person. Depending on the scope of the initial meeting, this initial conversation with a lead is called a “case review” or a “case evaluation.” 

Lead generation for law firms is NOT about cold calls or high-pressure salespeople. Nor is lead generation only for big high-volume law firms. Solo practitioners, boutique law firms, and mid-size law firms all have the goal of generating interest and establishing trust before prospective clients even contact a law firm.

Why Is Lead Generation Important for Law Firms?

At their core, law firms are businesses, and most need to participate in advertising and marketing to pay the bills, cover payroll, and be profitable. One problem many lawyers have is they went to law school to be attorneys, not to run marketing campaigns. There are a number of benefits of lead generation services for law firms: 

Benefit #1: Potential Clients Contact You (Not the Other Way Around)

With inbound digital marketing strategies like content marketing and PPC ads for lawyers, your leads will come to you - and they will want to learn more about your legal services. You don’t need to send mass mailings or hire salespeople to make phone calls advertising your services. 

Benefit #2: Law Firm Brand Awareness Occurs Before Potential Client Contacts You

If your leads come from your website, your leads have the opportunity to learn about your law firm before they reach out to you. They can read your practice area content, look at your case results or client testimonials, and watch videos on your website. By the time your lead sits down to discuss their legal matter with you, they will feel like they know you. 

Benefit #3: You Can Gather Information Before You Speak to the Lead 

Your intake process can allow you to obtain information about your potential clients before the initial consultation. Your case evaluation form can provide a section for comments, or if a potential client calls your firm, your receptionist can ask a few specific questions. You can use this info to personalize your response and determine the best lawyer at your law firm to meet with them. 

Basics of Lead Generation for Attorneys 

Lead generation for lawyers is a simple agenda: get more clients. Targeted online advertising can help lead generation efforts by narrowing focus and ensuring leads generated are actually likely to turn into new clients. 

Understand the Sales Funnel

The AIDA-model, developed by E. St. Elmo Lewis in 1898, describes the theoretical journey customers make from potential customer to loyal patron. Although it was developed nearly a century before the internet and has been modified for the modern customer, the basic themes of this long-standing model still hold true today. Consider the AIDA model in terms of potential clients finding a law firm on the internet.

lead generation for lawyers AIDA model

Main Stages of a Sales Funnel

  • A - Awareness: Many people that hire a lawyer do not initially start out looking for a lawyer - they look for information about the current legal issue they are dealing with. This can range from mildly concerning (such as healthy adults researching estate planning well before retirement years) to highly problematic or urgent (criminal defense matters such as felony charges or looming indictments). Your potential client researches their situation - most likely through Google - to determine their available options and best course of action. 
  • I - Interest: After making the realization that they need the services of a lawyer, the consumer starts looking at websites for several law firms to get an idea of what’s available. They may find a law firm through a pay-per-click ad, a local service ad, or via organic search results directing them to a blog or website.
  • D - Desire: The potential client is ready to speak with a lawyer - and possibly several. They fill out contact request forms or initiate phone calls to request a consultation. 
  • A - Action: The potential client, now a lead, meets with a lawyer and hires a law firm. 

Types of Content for Lawyers' Sales Funnel

Your prospects can come to find you at any point in the sales funnel journey. There are three types of content your website visitors may read depending on their point in the journey. They are: 

  • TOFU (Top of the Funnel): Content for initial legal research, such as practice area pages, informational videos, and social media accounts
  • MOFU (Middle of the Funnel): Content for people looking for in the future, such as resource guides, blog posts, and client testimonials. 
  • BOFU (Bottom of the Funnel): Content for people ready to hire a lawyer, such as law firm landing pages, case results, and FAQs with calls to action. 

These are general guidelines; there is no hard and fast position for potential clients. Anyone really interested in legal services may thoroughly go through all types of a law firm’s website. 

Understand Your Buyer's Personas

lead generation for attorneys buyer's persona

Have a solid understanding of your law firm’s “ideal client.” Create a semi-fictional character or two and detail their legal predicament. What is their legal problem? What services do they need from you, both short-term and long-term? 

When you think about your law firm website content, consider if it meets the needs of your fictional ideal client. Going a step further and putting yourself in your website visitor’s shoes, would you contact your firm? 

Process of Lead Generation for Lawyers

Lead generation moves potential clients on a journey, or process. Your prospects go through several steps, from:

  • (1) being in a target audience pool, to 
  • (2) being a potential client on your website or looking at your social media channel, to
  • (3) contacting your law firm and becoming a lead. 

After they have reached out to you, you can pursue a second conversion: signing your legal leads up for your services. 

For most attorneys running small and mid-sized firms, the process of obtaining quality leads is a necessary part of running a law firm. Leads are a hot commodity - offered via pay-per-click by search engines and local legal directories. Leads can be procured via promoted content on social media. Mass directories owned by big legal marketing conglomerates are happy to sell leads. 

How to Generate Leads for Your Law Firm

There is a saying “there are many paths to the top of the mountain.” And there are many ways for a law firm to get leads. In our opinion, the best lead generation services for lawyers are systems which will bring not just one lead, but lead after lead, after lead - indefinitely. Below are some effective strategies law firms use to generate leads. 

Invest in a High-Performance Law Firm Website

A professional website with useful, authoritative content will allow potential clients in all stages of the sales funnel to find you through Google when searching for keyword phrases related to your legal services. Page speed is a primary starting point for your SEO. You can check your website’s page speed on Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool or at webpagetest.org.

lead generation for lawyers a high-performance website

Page load speed is part of Google’s algorithm and the first few seconds your potential clients spend on your website will directly affect conversion rates. Once your page loads (hopefully quickly), the real first impression begins. Your website should: 

  • Look professional
  • Navigate easily
  • Have an security certificate (HTTPS)
  • Optimize media (compress images down without altering quality). 

A professional law firm website design agency can create a website that will be mobile-friendly on any device - and incorporate modern website design elements. 

Create Powerful Landing Pages to Capture Leads

Google’s goal is to provide their customers with the most valuable, relevant website for whatever they are searching for - and that should be your goal with your website’s visitors. Landing pages can be used for traffic from PPC ads, paid social promotions, from articles on other websites. Your landing pages should be: 

  • Professional in appearance. 
  • Easy to navigate to other areas of your website 
  • Relevant and useful to your website visitors 
  • Persuasive with prominent value propositions and calls to action. 

Content on landing pages should be written for the website visitor (of course), but with SEO best practices such as meta tags, descriptions, and headers. 

Leverage Search Engine Optimization for Attorneys' Lead Generation

Search engine optimization (SEO)  involves using multiple techniques to improve a website’s position in a search engine results page (a SERP). Unlike paid search advertising, you don’t pay for your placement. Law firm websites earn a high position in Google by having content that Google deems relevant and valuable to people who visit your website. SEO best practices that can lead to organically-sourced, quality leads for law firms include: 

  • Having website pages that Google bot (the generic name for Google’s web crawler) can index for desktop and mobile browsers 
  • Using relevant keywords, phrases, and description text that relates to the content 
  • Utilizing off-site SEO to signal the website’s relevance to Google. 
  • Incorporating schema markup to instruct search engines on how to use content 
  • Following best practices previously mentioned for a high-functioning website, especially optimizing pages to load quickly and securing the website with an SSL security certificate (which must be renewed each year). 

SEO best practices have evolved significantly in the last 20 years as Google and other search engines have updated their algorithms. Because SEO is crucially important and ever-changing, many attorneys choose to outsource their SEO work to a knowledgeable SEO agency law firm like Grow Law Firm.

Local SEO

Local search optimization is similar to organic search results but tailored to potential clients in nearby areas, including neighborhoods, zip codes, cities, and counties. According to Hubspot, nearly half of all Google searches are from people looking to find local information.

Use Paid Advertising for Lead Generation

lead generation for attorneys paid advertising

Google ads for attorneys are not anything new. For many lawyers, paid search is a trusted and dependable source of traffic to a website and one of the most reliable paid lead generation sources for lawyers. 

Although it is possible to set up and run your PPC campaign by yourself (Google makes it simple), hiring a qualified PPC agency for lawyers to manage your campaign can be one of the best marketing decisions you make. Over the course of a 12-month campaign, the monthly investment to an agency to manage your campaign can save you money. 

Leveraging a team of legal marketing professionals who know how to target ads and write effective ad copy is key to effective converting. For example, a vague or curious ad text may generate clicks, but curious clicks just to see what an ad is about can be a waste of law firm advertising budget.

Google Local Service Ads

Local Service Ads are a pay-per-lead model (as opposed to a pay-per-click model). Lawyers that advertise on Local Service Ads have a badge indicating they are “Google Screened”, meaning  Google performs a background and license check to verify they are in good standing. Lawyers can set a budget based on the number of leads they’d like to get, and ads can be paused at any time.

lead generation for lawyers Google local service ads example

Nurture Leads With Email Marketing

Because not everyone who is interested in your firm will call you, email marketing is a great way to stoke interest that will eventually convert a lead to a law firm client. There are three ways to get your website visitors’ emails:

  • Blog subscription: A form on your blog can prompt your website visitors to subscribe to your blog to be notified when new posts are published: 
  • Email newsletter signup: A form on your blog can prompt your website visitors to sign up for a monthly newsletter.
  • Gated content: You can offer a downloadable e-book or resource guide in exchange for potential clients providing their email address. 

Utilize the Power of Social Media Marketing

lead generation for lawyers social media marketing

Through social media, your law firm can engage with your community, potential clients, and existing clients. However, it may be difficult, especially initially, to convert leads from social media. 

Many law firms struggle with generating high-quality leads through social media, as well as secondary social media goals like increasing engagement and gaining new followers. If your social media channel looks like one long infomercial, it is likely you will face difficulty with channel growth. However, with your organic posts, you should post content that increases engagement, such as: 

  • Attention-grabbing law videos
  • Content discussing actual legal issues (not just ads for your brand), 
  • Interactive surveys and polls 
  • Fun contests and giveaways 
  • Sharing other people’s content. 

Law firms can benefit from digital marketing agency expertise when writing a content plan. For example, you can increase engagement by focusing on small details, like understanding the best days and times of the week to post social media content. 

Use Content Marketing 

Creating relevant legal content that generates interest with your target audience is paramount in digital marketing. People searching for legal services want useful answers that they can find easily - and your practice area pages can serve that purpose. Well-written long-form content (1,000 - 7,500 words) that goes in-depth into practice areas or topics can propel a law firm’s practice area page to the top of a search engine. 

Content primarily includes articles, blog posts, infographics, videos, and legal podcasts (as well as social media posts mentioned above). Remember, your website is only as current as your latest content. Consistency in posting is key. 

Blogs

lead generation for lawyers blogs

Simply by sharing information, blogs are effective traffic generators for law firms and, therefore, one of the most effective internal lead generation services for law firms. According to a Hubspot statistic, businesses that have a blog receive 55% more traffic to their website as a result of increased organic search traffic and promotion of blogs.

Blogs can cover any topic related to your legal practice, but we find niche blogs targeting a specific area of law are excellent. Having many posts about a specific type of case, or a particular area, position the lawyer as a subject matter expert. 

Legal Guides 

We mentioned gated content earlier in this guide. Some law firms are staunch believers in high-quality, high-value gated content. Gated content can take many forms - but legal resource guides and e-books are popular. 

Resource guides can also be provided as legal guides or PDFs without providing contact information. This can be done as a competitive strategy, such as offering an accessible resource to potential clients without requiring them to provide their contact information. If your content is not gated, you can also reap the SEO benefits of it being indexed on your website as an SEO resource. 

FAQ pages

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages are popular among law firms, and rank well in organic search results when done right for a website visitor’s experience and for SEO. When drafting content that you want to rank well in search engines, research your competition’s pages and strive to make your content the best available resource on the internet. Your content should be comprehensive and relevant. After you are done creating your content, consider if your FAQ page is the best resource available to answer the question.

If you already have FAQs on your website, check your Google Analytics Content Drilldown. This is a great resource to identify underutilized content that needs more views, and underperforming content. 

Get Reviews and Referrals

Your law firm’s reputation online is more important than ever. One bad review from a former client can be enough for dozens of potential new clients to go with your competition. The famous quote from Warren Buffet “it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it” is true. 

Any law firm with a presence online should be concerned with reviews and reputation management. It is not enough to sit back and wait and see who leaves a review, when your competition is asking clients to write reviews. 

We recommend notifying your client when you sign them up that you will be asking for a review when their case is finished. If your clients know they will be asked for a review, they will be more likely to give you an opportunity to address concerns with their case, prior to writing any review on Google, Yelp, or another website. 

Take Part in Conferences and Seminars

Conferences, trade shows, and continuing education events are all potential sources for referrals. In-person networking events are great opportunities for lawyers to make meaningful connections. You can maximize the value of these events by:

  • Researching attendees ahead of time
  • Preparing your “elevator speech” - mention your many positive reviews! 
  • Focusing on purposeful conversations with a few individuals vs. getting your business card out to as many people as possible 
  • Following up via email or on LinkedIn after the event.

Common referral sources are other lawyers in neighboring jurisdictions or attorneys in your area that handle different practice areas. Or they may be your direct competitors that have more leads than they can take on. For example, Personal injury attorneys that handle catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases may refer out any car accident case that is not a major injury. 

Offer Free Consultations To Generate Leads for Your Law Firm

Free consultations are standard in certain areas of law, like personal injury. If you offer a free consultation, you can promote this heavily throughout your website, blog posts, and social media posts. These “ free consultations” may be called:

  • Case reviews
  • Case assessments
  • Case evaluations
  • Case planning sessions

In other areas of law, like family law, free consultations are not always the norm. It is common for an attorney to charge a flat one-hour rate of time for a free consultation. The choice to offer free consultations or not is personal and depends on numerous factors. Some lawyers offer a “reduced fee” case review - such as $100, or charge a full hour fee, but credit it back on the client’s first invoice if they hire the lawyer. 

Regardless of whether you offer a free consultation, or a full rate billing for an initial meeting, you can create a value proposition with your initial meeting with a potential client. If you charge a full rate for your first meeting, you can assure them that the attorney will be prepared, focused, and mission-oriented.

Try Paid Lead Generation Services for Lawyers

Generating leads through your website, blog posts, and social media can be done basically for free - the cost per acquisition is just the time of the individual who created it, and the time for it to work. This organic content has a slow build effect as you work to rise to higher positions organically in Google’s search engine results. 

For law firms that want to “turn on the fire hose” on the sales funnel, there are a number of lead generation services for law firms. One way to do this is through barnacle SEO - where you get leads from another website that is very successful at search engine optimization and sells leads. 

The pay-per-lead model generally means you pay for the contact information of people looking for your services. This is different from pay per impression and pay per click models. Costs for leads vary widely - the American Bar Association estimated pay per lead prices go from around $20 to “north of $700.”

Ask any lead generation service about their experience in the legal industry in your geographic location and practice area, and how they get their leads. Do they run a major lawyer directory, or generate traffic by writing informative blog posts to a professional website? Some of the big players in lawyer lead generation are listed below. 

Avvo Lead Generation for Lawyers

Although it features 97% of lawyers in the US, Avvo is more than a massive legal directory. An online legal services marketplace, Avvo claims to have more than 8 million visitors each month - with more than half of visitors having an urgent legal matter. Founded by Mark Britton in 20006, Avvo offers targeted marketing with sponsored listings and customized display ads throughout their network. For more information about Avvo, see our Avvo Lawyer Marketing Guide.

Nolo Lead Generation for Lawyers

Nolo is a legal website that offers do-it-yourself legal products, legal forms and software, and a legal directory. Nolo lawyer profiles and articles generally rank well in search engines. According to Nolo - their website receives visits from over 15 million people searching for legal information each month. They offer a pay-per-lead lead subscription model - which is “designed to filter out non-viable users.” Nolo prides itself on full transparency. Their Proposal Generator offers expected lead volumes based on their historical website traffic and what-if cost and pricing scenarios.

FindLaw Lead Generation for Lawyers

Findlaw, a Thomson Reuters business, is a trusted legal marketing provider, which claims to have more than 11 million monthly visitors. Findlaw has been on the internet since 1996, and is one of the oldest legal information websites on the internet.

Findlaw claims to have (or have had) more than 18,500 law firm clients. While this is impressive, it does raise concern with your competition. If a really good lead comes in through FindLaw, will you receive it, or will a competitor law firm be given the prospect’s contact information?

Lawyers.Com Lead Generation for Lawyers

Lawyers.com is another major law directory that is in the Martindale-Avvo Network along with Avvo, Nolo, and TotalAttorneys. This directory website has been popular for many years, going back to the early days of SEO when keyword domains reigned supreme (think findcheapcarinsuranceonline.com).

Unbundled Lead Generation for Lawyers

Unbundled attorney legal representation is hiring a lawyer for a limited, specific task, such as drafting a letter requesting information, or preparing a contract. Services to clients are piecemeal or a la carte, and leads are available to attorneys with no commitment or long-term contract. This type of representation is also called “limited scope representation.”

Unbundled leads are available for bankruptcy, immigration, family law, or estate planning attorneys. Unbundled claims that because prospects are informed of cost ranges at time of inquiry, their conversion rates are higher than other law firm lead generation services.

Thumbtack Lead Generation for Lawyers

Thumbtack is a service provider website where customers can hire for many projects like handyman services, house cleaning, personal chef, home organizing, and yes, lawyers (divorce lawyers, immigration lawyers, personal injury lawyers, criminal defense lawyers, and bankruptcy attorneys). Lawyer profiles provide estimated costs and payment methods, lawyer specialties, FAQs, and more. Thumbtack profiles have verification checks for criminal background checks and bar licenses.

When researching strategies for the best lead generation for lawyers, keep in mind that not all attorney lead generation services can get the same results - both in quantity of leads and quality. In their 2021 Marketing Issue, the American Bar Association identified two problems with the pay-per-lead (PPL) model:

  • The quality of PPL companies is extremely variable; 
  • It is common for generation companies to cycle leads to multiple lawyers. 

If you are the fifth lawyer to call someone - who genuinely believed that one attorney would be contacting them - it is understandable that the lead will not be interested at that point. 

Do not blindly trust that any agency will magically supply quality leads - and if a lead generation offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Always make sure the process aligns with ethical standards for legal advertising and marketing in your state. To learn more check our Thumbtack for lawyers review.

Consult Attorney Lead Generation Experts Today!

A major benefit of working with a full-service law digital marketing agency like Grow Law Firm is working with experienced legal marketing professionals. Our law firms are able to steer clear of expensive trial and error mistakes and generate leads efficiently and effectively. Many of our clients have worked with different lead generation services, and we are familiar with their results. 

To learn more about how Grow Law Firm can help with attorney lead generation, website design, SEO, or a full range of other digital marketing services, contact us for a free consultation. 

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