A recent study for the Legal Services Board (LSB) found that the Internet revolution has “yet to reach legal services”. The research also found that consumers would jump at the idea of an ‘official’ online resource to help them resolve their legal issues. This is according to a report on the Legal Futures website.

The study – involving 10 focus groups – found that levels of consumer confidence and knowledge are low when it comes to addressing legal issues and that the help that is currently available online can actually make things worse.

Outside of those areas where consumers invariably use a solicitor, such as conveyancing, wills and divorce, approaching a solicitor is generally seen as a reluctant choice, to be avoided where possible. (Oh dear).

“A fear of escalating the problem, the expense involved with solicitors, a sense that engaging a solicitor is often an open-ended, uncontrolled commitment, and a belief that other options would often simply be more effective at resolving the issue, all contributed to consumers saying they would usually look to explore other options rather than ‘legal’ ones to resolve the issue.

“Solicitors are often seen by consumers as a last resort or a reluctant choice, an expense to be avoided wherever possible rather than a service to be used for your own benefit.”

The report states that, while in many areas of life, the Internet has helped empower consumers to make more informed decisions and open up access to products and services, “this revolution (…) has yet to reach legal services. (…) The Internet was found to be far less help than consumers have come to expect”.

Alex Roy, the LSB’s head of development and research, said: “We commissioned this research to explore whether, and how, consumers would see benefits in online support to help them access legal services. It demonstrates again the difficulty that consumers have engaging with legal services, but it also offers hope that well-designed online sites could really improve consumers’ ability to find the legal services that meet their needs“.

The standard of the average solicitor’s website remains poor. Homogeneous, firm focused information does little to engage and add value to the visitor. While the report says that consumers deem legal services too complex to ‘do it yourself’ ( a view that Legal365.com will no doubt take issue with), there are clear opportunities for firms with well designed, content led websites, and strategies to drive traffic towards them, to steal a march over their local competition.

Audit your website against the following questions:

  1. If you put your hand over the name and logo, could it be the website of any law firm?
  2. Do you use the words ‘we’,’us’ and ‘our’, more than ‘you’ and ‘your’?
  3. Do you provide information on aspects of law that people can download and read for themselves?
  4. When was the last piece of fresh content added?
  5. Is your website driving leads and enquiries or just gathering cyberdust?

Today’s technologies mean that developing a decent website is low hanging fruit in marketing terms and yet the business benefits to be gained from it are huge. Time for a review? Contact us if you think we can help.

This post originaly appeared at The Marketing Eye Blog.