23 October 2019

US law firms “out of sync” with client needs

US legal trends report spotlights struggle with client inquiries as 1,000 emails and 500 phone calls reveal poor response rates.

According to 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.

“Out of sync”

Results from the study show that the majority of law firms neglect their emails, and many don’t respond to phone outreach. Only 40 percent responded to the email, while 56 percent of phone calls were answered by a person and 39 percent went to voicemail. More than half of firms didn’t respond to their voicemails within 72 hours. Seven out of 10 firms provided unsatisfactory email responses, while 6 out of 10 firms provided unsatisfactory phone responses, and nearly all firms provided unsatisfactory voicemail responses. 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. 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.  “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.”

Maturity model

The report also includes what it says is 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. The report can be found here.