ABA Report: Perspectives On Finding Personal Legal Services

by rocketmatter-admin April 11, 2011

Recently the ABA released “Perspectives on Finding Personal Legal Services,” the results of an opinion poll concerning, among other things, how people find lawyers.  Four issues were specifically examined:

  • How do people with personal legal matters find their lawyers?
  • How likely are people with personal legal matters to use various online models to assist in their search for a lawyer?
  • What do people think about limited scope representation or “unbundled” legal services?
  • What sources would self-represented litigants turn to for personal legal matters if not a lawyer?

The report has inspired comments from several respected voices in the space. Thoughts and opinions on the report – all great reads – came in from:

  • Carolyn Elefant at MyShingle (“Blame it On Solo”)
  • Kevin O’Keefe at Real Lawyers Have Blogs (“ABA Survey Shows Blogs A Leading Form Of Client Development”)
  • Nikki Black at her site (“Ask An Irrelevant Question, Get An Irrelevant Answer”)
  • Venkat Balasubramani at Spam Notes (“Survey Says”)
  • Bob Ambrogi at his place on LawSites (“Why The ABA Survey Gets It Wrong On Blogs”)
  • Susan Carter Liebel at Solo Practice University (“How I Am Looking For A Professional Service Provider in 2011”)
  • Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice (“The Sound Of A Tree Falling In the Blawging Woods”)

Some of the most controversial conclusions concern the impact – or alleged lack thereof – of social media on an individual’s decision to hire a lawyer.  The summary conclusions included provocative statements like: “People would not use social media avenues to a substantial degree to assist in finding a lawyer for a personal legal mater, but relatively few lawyers market their services through these avenues at this time.”

There are several areas for critique – evidenced in part by the big community response – ranging from matters such as how questions were framed to the potential interplay between defined categories to basic poll methodology.    Nonetheless, the study is an interesting read and I suspect one that is likely to spawn other similar studies in the near future.

One point in Carloyn Elefant’s piece was particularly sharp.  With respect to blogging, she wrote:  “The ABA Survey was about how consumers find lawyers, not how lawyers attract clients. The real test of blogging’s effectiveness for solo and small firm lawyers isn’t to focus on consumers, but instead, to poll solo and small firm bloggers to determine whether their blog generates business.”

Thoughts welcome.

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