Clio’s Legal Trends Report Reveals Law Firms Struggle to Respond to Client Inquiries

1,000 emails and 500 phone calls reveal poor response rates and a lack of informative communications from law firms.

San Diego, CA—Clio, the leader in cloud-based legal technology, announced the results of the legal industry’s largest nation-wide assessment of client services among law firms. To conduct the study, Clio hired a third-party research firm to contact 1,000 law firms via email and phone with inquiries designed to assess law firm responsiveness and quality of communications with potential clients. Published in this year’s Legal Trends Report, findings from the study indicate that today’s legal clients face critical challenges in getting timely and informative responses from law firms nationwide. 

“Our assessment of legal services in the United States shows that law firms are remarkably out of sync with the needs of today’s clients,” said Jack Newton, CEO and Co-founder of Clio. “We hope that this year’s Legal Trends Report shines a spotlight on the tremendous opportunity awaiting consumers and lawyers, if lawyers can improve both the client-experience and firm-performance dimensions of their business.”

The report also includes the industry’s first longitudinal, multi-year study of law firm success. Based on aggregated and anonymized data from thousands of law firms, the analysis identifies a cohort of law firms that has achieved substantial revenue growth over five years. Insights from the research, as well as new findings on client expectations from a survey of 2,000 U.S. consumers, form the basis for the Law Firm Maturity Model, which outlines a new framework for law firm success. As illustrated in the model, “thriving” law firms experience high growth because they strike a balance between revenue-generating tasks and delivering exceptional client experiences. This leads to more cost-efficient and productive business models that see increased returns on efforts over time.

Email and phone assessment results

To assess the true state of client service in the legal industry, each law firm included in the email and phone study was contacted with a brief list of questions that a typical potential client would have when they first reach out.

“To find out how the legal industry truly needs to improve, we needed to validate what consumers were telling us with our own, unbiased research,” said Newton.

Results from the study show that the majority of law firms neglect their emails, and many don’t respond to phone outreach: 

  • Only 40% responded to the email
  • 56% of phone calls were answered by a person and 39% went to voicemail
  • More than half of firms didn’t respond to their voicemails within 72 hours

Across both email and phone, the majority of firms were not able to provide adequate information when responding to the client questions designed for the study: 

  • 7 out of 10 firms provided unsatisfactory email responses
  • 6 out of 10 firms provided unsatisfactory phone responses
  • Nearly all firms provided unsatisfactory voicemail responses

To learn what potential clients expect when contacting a law firm, Clio surveyed 2,000 consumers. The results indicated that legal clients want upfront information about their case and what to expect when working with the firm. Based on the survey results, Clio created the following criteria: 

  • For an adequate email response, firms needed to: Respond within 24 hours, answer at least one question regarding the issue or the lawyer’s ability to help, provide some information on either rates or booking a consultation, and not be confusing in their communications. 
  • For an adequate phone call, law firms needed to achieve an average performance of 50% across the following: number of questions answered, ability to demonstrate experience with the matter, provide some information on how to learn about rates or overall cost, and provide information on next steps. 

Additionally, most clients (82%) agreed that timeliness was important, and 79% indicated that they expected a response within 24 hours. Of the firms that responded to Clio’s emails, 82% did so within 24 hours, indicating that law firms typically respond within 24 hours or not at all.

Background and additional information

As part of the email and phone study, a third-party research firm contacted law firms via email and phone with a legal issue that fell into one of five categories: Family (child custody), Criminal (domestic abuse charge), Bankruptcy (debt elimination), Employment (racial discrimination), and Business (incorporation). To be eligible for the study, firms needed to have an active web presence with a public email address and phone number. Firms also needed to have public-facing information indicating that they handle issue types related to the ones used in the study. 

Also included in the 2019 Legal Trends Report are insights on how consumers shop for legal representation and survey data from over 2,500 legal professionals on where they struggle in running their practices.

Those interested in learning more are encouraged to download the report


About the Legal Trends Report:

The Legal Trends Report provides information on the most important issues faced within the legal profession. By analyzing aggregated and anonymized data from tens of thousands of legal professionals in the US, supported by extensive survey research, the report offers unique insights into law firm efficiencies, hourly rates, and other key metrics for success.

About Clio:

Clio, the leader in cloud-based legal technology, empowers lawyers to be both client-centered and firm focused through a suite of cloud-based solutions, including legal practice management, client intake and legal CRM software. Clio has been transforming the industry for over a decade with 150,000 customers spanning 90 countries, and the approval of over 65 bar associations and law societies globally. Clio continues to lead the industry with initiatives like the Legal Trends Report, the Clio Cloud Conference, and the Clio Academic Access Program. Clio has been recognized as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies, a Deloitte Fast 50 and Fast 500 company. Learn more at

For more information please contact:

Sasha Perrin

Senior Manager, Brand and Communications


[email protected]