Third-Annual Legal Trends Report Provides New Insights Into Today’s Legal Consumer

October 4, 2018

In the 2018 Legal Trends Report, Clio examines factors that influence client satisfaction and sheds new light on NPS scores for lawyers.

New Orleans, LA — In the 2018 Legal Trends Report, Clio, the leader in cloud-based legal technology, conducted in-depth market research on today’s legal consumer. This year’s report uncovers a significant divide between lawyers’ perceptions of client expectations and clients’ actual expectations when using a lawyer. This divide was most prominent in the way communication is handled throughout a case. Clio further examined how often consumers hire lawyers, how likely they are to refer the lawyers they hire, and what impacts a lawyer’s net promoter score (NPS), a widely used benchmark for customer satisfaction.

“The Legal Trends Report features all of the highlights from our comprehensive research into better understanding how law firms operate, and how we can best support lawyers in better managing their practices,” said Jack Newton, CEO and Co-founder of Clio, in his keynote presentation to a packed audience at the Clio Cloud Conference in New Orleans.

“Since getting new clients is at the center of how lawyers will ultimately grow their firms, we dedicated this year’s research to better understanding what clients really want from their lawyers,” Newton added. “The findings suggest many firms may be out of touch with the expectations of today’s consumer, and we hope that Clio can help bridge that gap.”

According to the 2018 Legal Trends Report, which surveyed over 1,300 consumers, only 65% of individuals who faced a legal problem in the past two years ended up hiring a lawyer. Of those who faced a legal issue in the past two years, 68% communicated with a lawyer whom they didn’t hire, and 58% had a formal consultation with a lawyer they didn’t hire.

When it comes to avoiding legal solutions altogether, consumers report factors related to cost as the most common for avoiding the legal system. While 31% agree that using the legal system costs too much money (even when the benefits justify the cost), 35% believe the end benefits don’t justify the cost. For 28%, not knowing the final cost is a barrier. While cost is a major barrier to exploring any type of legal solution, other factors have a stronger influence on the overall preference to hire a lawyer. Many consumers are looking for do-it-yourself solutions, better outcomes, or easier processes—which all rank as high-impact indicators.

The report also provides a nation-wide evaluation of how likely consumers are to recommend the lawyers they’ve worked with, which is represented as a benchmark NPS of 25. Commonly used as a measure of brand satisfaction across all product and service industries, the legal industry score falls in line with those of airlines, banks, wireless carriers, and credit card companies.

A critical component to this NPS assessment shows that 23% of consumers fall into the “Detractor” category representing unhappy clients who are likely to dissuade others from hiring their lawyer. When looking at what factors influence overall NPS, cost is a major factor, but several factors related to bedside manner and the overall ease of working with a law firm also rank high.

To better understand where clients find it difficult to work with law firms, the report highlights key disconnects in overall expectations by comparing consumer responses to survey data from nearly 2,000 legal professionals:

  • Only 3% of legal professionals expect clients to want to tell them details of their matter in person, yet this is the preference for 70% of clients.
  • Only 2% of legal professionals expect clients to want to make appointments over the phone, yet this is the preference for 59% of clients.

Findings from the report also show that those who have dealt with a legal issue in the past two years are more open to working with virtual lawyers, never meeting their lawyer in person, and working through more advanced technologies that include AI and chatbots. Those who prefer not to work with lawyers are even more likely to be open to new alternatives for legal services.

“As consumer expectations are increasingly shaped by their experiences with other industries, law firms should stay abreast of modern trends in delivering professional services,” said Jack Newton. “Staying on top of what clients are looking for will help them build the types of client relationships that will ensure long-term success for their business.”

To learn more about consumer expectations and get updated data on law firm efficiencies and hourly rates across the US, read the 2018 Legal Trends Report.

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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 practice management, CRM and client intake 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 transform and 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 clio.com.


For more information please contact:
Sasha Perrin
Senior Manager, Brand and Communications
1-888-858-2564 x625
sasha.perrin@clio.com