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11 Steps on the Client Journey to Choosing a Law Firm

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Law Firms

It takes a lot to turn a casual lead — a potential customer who has shown interest — into a client. Each person embarks on a long journey, complete with online research, in-person referrals, and many other steps along the way. It's a lot for lawyers to keep in mind when developing a marketing strategy.

To help, we've highlighted the common steps that clients take on the way to finding the right law firm. As you examine these, keep in mind that no two clients will have the exact same path — to appeal to as many as possible, you'll need a comprehensive approach that accounts for the many ways leads try to find information about your practice.

law firm marketing

Identifying the Problem 

The very first step in any client journey arrives before this potential customer starts thinking about law firms. At this point, they simply become aware that a problem exists. The nature of this problem may strongly align with your law firm's practice area. 

For example, someone has been injured in a car accident that involved negligence. This victim faces ever-increasing medical bills, not to mention lost wages and even emotional distress. 

Evaluating Solutions

Once the possible client has realized that a problem is at play, the natural next step is to begin seeking and evaluating solutions. In this example, the person realizes that they should attempt to receive compensation from the person who caused the accident. 

The victim may discover that it would be easier to get personal injury damages under the guidance of an attorney. But someone else may conclude that they can handle the situation on their own. Law firm marketing efforts need to educate leads on why legal assistance is so valuable.

Whether it's seeking assistance following an accident or with another legal issue, once they are aware of the full range of options, potential clients are ready to research various law firms. How they move forward will depend on what information resources they find most reliable or easiest to navigate. The steps in their journey can include:

Word of Mouth

In the digital age, word of mouth isn't a consideration for some potential clients. On the other hand, it's the most important factor in decision-making for others. Much depends on the urgency of the legal matter and the practice area in question. 

With estate planning or family law, for example, potential clients may be familiar with specific law firms because their friends, family members, or colleagues have sought services at a particular practice. If they've discussed this in the past, the lead may gravitate toward this familiar option. 

While this step is first on the list, it can come into play at any point in the client's journey. Some clients will recall prior conversations about attorneys before they start searching online, while others start their search first but find their interest quickly piqued by names that seem familiar. 

Other word-of-mouth leads may reach out to loved ones for advice before they move forward with potential law firms. In all these situations, the value of strong, ongoing attorney-client relationships is evident, as former clients can have a huge impact on the interest and engagement of new leads. 

Still, there's no discounting the need for an excellent web presence and curated social media pages. Even if your law firm comes highly recommended, potential clients will still look to online resources for further insight. If they don't like what they find, even the most glowing of in-person praise will not be enough to overcome a poor first impression.


Referrals are another option that exists separately from the other client journey steps we'll discuss below. They may drive new clients to your firm after they've completed all the expected steps on their journey to choosing a firm. The difference, of course, is that the law firm they thought they would select turned out to not be a perfect fit — but with a nudge from another attorney, they may find that this journey goes in a new and valuable direction. 

Search Engines

The typical client journey will involve visits to a trusted search engine. Most leads will use keywords that reflect both the preferred geographic region and a relevant practice area. 

For example, if a potential client needs help with purchasing or leasing property near Chicago, a keyword search might read "Chicago real estate attorney." Increasingly, many leads replace specific geographic designations with "near me." This is an especially common approach with mobile search. 

Upon entering a keyword, the lead will arrive at the search engine results page (SERP). Typically, leads will head for the website in the top position, so this is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play. 

Browsing Your Law Firm's Website

If your law firm appears high enough on the SERP, leads will almost certainly stop by to learn more. Ideally, your website is both visually appealing and easy to navigate. The content needs to be engaging, or many visitors will be quick to depart.

The longer they browse your page, the more these visitors will learn about your practice areas, values, and process for connecting with clients.  

Include a call to action and a contact page so leads can easily get in touch if desired. Don't forget social media buttons, which make it simple for visitors to follow you on Facebook or other platforms. 

Social Media

Social media is a useful marketing tool that's often underutilized by the very law firms that could stand to benefit from it the most. While most potential clients will look to search engines first, their browsing session may eventually move to Facebook, LinkedIn, or even Instagram. This is where they can gain insight into relevant concerns or interact with your firm further through comments and direct messaging.

Reading Reviews and Testimonials

With today's customers reliant on others for opinions on everything from coffee to vacation spots, it's easy to see why they'd look to past clients when making high-stakes decisions like choosing an attorney.

While it's possible to get a basic sense of past clients' opinions while browsing social media pages, testimonials provide more in-depth insight into how your firm is perceived. These can be posted on your law firm's website and in resources such as Google Reviews or Martindale-Avvo

During this stage, leads browse a variety of reviews. Most will look closely for cases that involve their own concerns. These can provide peace of mind, preparing potential clients to take the next step in their journey to selecting a law firm.

Lead Magnets and Contact Information 

Following in-depth research, leads finally feel ready to reach out and have those first conversations with attorneys. At this point, few will be committed, even if they've encountered glowing praise and a strong track record. Most prefer to shop for attorneys, perhaps narrowing down the list to a few top candidates.

This is where nurturing efforts get even more purposeful. To begin, clients may fill out contact forms on law firm websites or follow a practice or two on social media. 

You can provide content that gives potential clients another reason to make a connection with your firm. One example is a PDF that provides insight into important legal topics that might concern them. To download this content, leads are asked to share contact information, which kicks off the email marketing process.

Email Marketing

Don't be surprised if leads don't immediately commit to working with your law firm, even after they've shared their contact details. Often, extra nurturing is needed before they're willing to take the next step. Others may simply need reminders, which is exactly what marketing emails provide. 

Your first marketing email goes to the lead after they fill out a contact form on your website or share their contact information in order to access a resource such as that PDF. You can send these potential clients regular email updates that help them feel more comfortable with your law firm.  

Client Consults

Your lead is impressed with your law firm and ready to take the next step. You can reel them in with a complimentary, obligation-free option to have a personalized conversation. This initial consultation is when your lead could become a full-blown client. 

Consults can take place over the phone or in person. Either way, they provide a low-pressure opportunity for clients to discover what their rapport may be like with various attorneys. Clients should come away knowing more about their own legal situation as well as the specific ways they can resolve their concerns by working with your law firm. A successful consultation may be followed by onboarding — a discussion about the firm as well as their goals and needs — and hopefully a long-term relationship with your new client.

Level Up Your Marketing Strategy

The client journey can seem long and complex, but every step plays an important role in getting potential customers to trust your law firm. Accomplish this, and you'll be equipped to attract more leads and turn them into revenue-producing clients. 

As you seek to make the most of every marketing dollar, look to the team at Scorpion for insight. We're here to help you capture the best leads and grow your practice. Reach out today to learn more. 

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