YourABA June 2011 Masthead

How are consumers accessing legal services?

Word of mouth — either through contact with a friend or family member, or with a lawyer used previously — is still a popular way to find a lawyer for one’s personal legal matter. Searching the Yellow Pages as a way to find a lawyer is fading. When people do go online to find an attorney, a site that allows for the exchange of questions and answers between prospective client and lawyer, as well as a site that provides for consumer feedback, are most likely to be used.

Those are among the findings — released earlier this year — of a poll conducted by Harris Interactive, commissioned by the ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services.

Knowledge and use of unbundled legal services was also probed. The study found that people are generally not familiar with limited scope representation. However, when respondents learned about such services, they became interested in using them.

Individuals pursuing a legal matter without the use of a lawyer tended to turn to judges and courthouse resources for information, rather than librarians. Pursuers of pro se representation are also more likely to turn to free online services and books, rather than online resources that have a fee.

Additional, more detailed findings include:

  • Younger individuals, specifically those in the 18-24 year old age group, are nearly twice as likely to rely on an online search compared to the general population;
  • With respect to online sources, individuals are more likely to use sites where viewers can ask legal questions, sites that rate lawyers, or lawyers’ websites. They are least likely to use social networking sites. A middle tier of usage includes directories and online matching services.
  • A mere 6 percent of respondents were familiar with unbundled legal services. But two-thirds of individuals would be interested in exploring the option, once they became aware of it.
  • Unbundling had the greatest interest from younger respondents; least interest was from an older demographic.
  • Nearly six out of 10 (57 percent) respondents would likely turn to free online legal services if they were to represent themselves in a legal matter. A similar percentage (59 percent) indicated they would be very or somewhat likely to turn to a judge as a resource when proceeding with a personal legal matter without a lawyer.

Access the full report, including possible implications of its findings, here



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