From Search to Retainer

Gyi Tsakalakis
May 8, 2013

There can be a lot of steps between someone searching for you and retaining you. Whether their search begins with people they know or search engines, several dominoes must fall in sequence to continue a potential client on the path to becoming a paying client.

The Search

Most people still begin their search for a lawyer by asking family, friends and other people they trust.

And of course, people don't refer people that trust them to just anybody. People refer those that trust them to lawyers that they trust.

And so building trust with the people around you is the most important part of business development.

But not everyone knows a lawyer they trust. And so sometimes, people search elsewhere to find the right lawyer for them. And even those that are referred by someone they trust will probably want to get more information about the lawyer to whom they were referred.

And it should really come as no surprise that people turn to the internet to find information. For the most part, that means search engines (read Google).

But people don't search in the ways that you might think. For example, many lawyers think that their potential clients search for them with some variation of:

[their city] [their practice area] [attorney or lawyer or law firm]

And there's no doubt that some people do search like this, I've seen the web analytics. But these tend to represent a smaller number of the total relevant search universe even for lawyers that command prominent positions in search engines for these terms.

Instead, most people are looking for information more generally. They might have questions about their particular legal circumstances. Other times, they might be investigating something that happened to them and not even yet realize that they should discuss their situation with a lawyer.

And the lawyers that supply this demand with both relevant and quality information will find their pages bubbling to the top of search results, and their listings getting clicked generating a visitor.

But visitors don't pay office overhead, clients do.


Marketing people talk a lot about conversion. For us, conversion ultimately means converting a potential client into a paying client. But before we get to paying clients, we need to convert visitors into potential clients. In other words, lawyers must motivate their visitors to inquire about their services.

And this can be much more difficult than you realize.

You see, many lawyers can wrap their heads around generating visitor traffic. But visitor traffic that doesn't convert into potential client inquiries is largely meaningless. So, when they churn out crappy web content that gets indexed and even drives visitor traffic, they can't figure out why the phone isn't ringing.

And the answer is that when they arrived at the lawyer's site, they weren't impressed. At least not impressed enough to contact the firm. And so they head back to continue their search.

Visitor traffic is only valuable if it supplies your visitors' demand for information.

Clearly, there are other types of visitors worth attracting to your web pages. Friends, family, other lawyers, etc. And what these people find when they arrive at your pages will have an impact on them too. Don't kid yourself. They might not tell you, but if they think your pages are trash, it has an impact on them. And sometimes, if they're sufficiently "trashy" it might make them hesitate to send people who trust them to you.

Of course, the conversion process goes well-beyond what people find on your web pages. There are unlimited reasons why someone who inquires about your services ultimately decides not to hire you. Maybe they perceive you as too expensive. Maybe you don't seem experienced enough to handle their situation. Maybe they just don't like the clothes that you're wearing.

The point is that all of these dominoes must fall in the right place and at the right time in order for someone to go from searching for a lawyer to hiring a lawyer.

Gyi Tsakalakis
Co-Founder of AttorneySync
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