As the world continues to adjust to life during the COVID-19 crisis, so do consumers in the way they seek legal representation online. During our webinar hosted on April 29th, we talked with Nolo’s Managing Editor Micah Schwartzbach, Internet Brand’s Principal Analyst Adam Silver and Rebecca Young, Senior Manager of Data and Analytics. Together these panelists discussed trends in how consumers search for help with legal issues in areas such as unemployment, criminal defense, landlord and tenant law, bankruptcy, estate planning, immigration, Social Security and disability and divorce.
What Are Consumers Searching For?
Using data pulled from Nolo.com, Disabilitysecrets.com, Bankruptcylawfirms.com, and Divorcenet.com, the panel found that certain search behaviors were directly related to COVID-19. For example, DUI/DWI searches are low due to the current stay-at-home orders in most states, but a spike is expected as states begin to ease their lockdown restrictions. Also, people still wary of using public transportation may resort to using their own vehicles to travel. Similarly, with millions of people filing for unemployment, many consumers are searching for legal representation and guidance. One significant piece of data in landlord and tenant law involves both parties searching this topic right around the first of the month, presumably due to not being able to pay/collect rent and thus requiring legal help with eviction and related matters.
Surges in consumers searching for bankruptcy attorneys usually trail other economic indicators, but this time, it appears that bankruptcy is still being viewed very much as a last resort. With the government attempting to help companies stay afloat and pay their workers through measures such as the Paycheck Protection Program, panelist Adam Silver believes that bankruptcy has not yet seen its full increase in pageviews.
Our panelists also spoke about certain practice areas being linked to the current news cycle. With fewer people traveling internationally, restrictions on visas and border closings due to the coronavirus pandemic, immigration searches have increased as people try to understand their options in the current environment.
How Is This Pandemic Affecting Client-Attorney Relationships?
With stay-at-home orders still effect in many states, law firms have closed their offices and are meeting with clients virtually. During the webinar, the panelists analyzed some preliminary data regarding how consumers feel about this significant shift. They found that while clients are comfortable discussing their legal issues over the phone or via videoconferencing, they still have concerns about working with a lawyer they haven’t had face-to-face meetings with.
What Can I Do to Reach Potential Clients?
As a legal advocate working during these times, it will be important for you to maintain a strong online presence, as the analysis has revealed that many people are still very much in the market for attorneys. By making it clear that you are open for business and ready to meet virtually with clients, you will increase your chances of bringing in new business. This can be an opportunity for you to curate relevant legal content on your site and draw potential clients by having current and accurate legal resources for them to read.
To hear a more in-depth discussion about the online behavior of consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic, watch the full webinar.