This morning, the ABA Journal has a story entitled, “How People Find Lawyers: Referrals Are Popular, Blogs Not So Much, Poll Finds.”
According to the story, “When potential clients do turn to online resources, they are less likely to consult social media and blogs than innovative websites. The survey question was, ‘if you needed a lawyer for a personal legal matter, how likely would you be to use the following resources to find one?’ Fewer than 20 percent were very or somewhat likely to consult Facebook, compared to 15 percent who would consult blogs, and 9 percent who would look at Twitter.”
Despite what so many social media snake-oil salesmen would tell you, most attorneys, especially those of us who blog (and are on Twitter) know this.
My issue with the ABA Journal’s story, and the officially titled, “Perspectives on Finding Personal Legal Services, The Results of a Public Opinion Poll, American Bar Association, Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services, February 2011” link to report here, are the questions they asked, which of course led to the not so surprising results.
The survey of more than 1,000 adults was conducted through land line telephones. The first question was, “If you needed a lawyer for a personal legal matter, what would be the primary way you would find one?”
Forty-six percent said that they would ask a friend, family member of colleague and 34% said that they would contact a lawyer that they know or have used before. Only 7% would search online. Because the question only asked for the “primary” way, it’s not surprising that people, when looking for someone to handle their divorce, or to plan their estate, or to keep them out of jail, would ask for a recommendation from a trusted friend or family member before consulting what George W. Bush called “The Google.”
Next, the survey asked, “If you needed a lawyer for a personal legal matter, how likely would you be to use the following resources to find one?:
- The lawyer’s website;
- An online directory;
- A website where you can ask lawyers legal questions;
- A website where people post their problems and lawyers interested in representing them follow up;
- A website that rates lawyers;
- Social network sites such as Facebook
- Twitter; and
Here, people were not asked to identify as “primary” way with only one choice, but for each were asked how likely they were to use that particular source. None of the online sources fared very well, with fifteen percent of respondents very likely or somewhat likely to use blogs to find a lawyer.
You ask a stupid question, and you get a stupid answer. What does it mean to ask people if they would use a blog as a resource to find a lawyer? Are there blogs out there about finding lawyers? Are there blogs that provide various information about specific lawyers and how one would go about finding one? I wouldn’t be surprised if there were, but I’m sure they are all nonsense.
The question and answer completely miss the entire point of what attorney blogging is about. The main reason that I blog is that I enjoy writing. If you don’t enjoy writing, you shouldn’t have a blog.
But do I blog to market my practice? Of course I do. I don’t write some of the lame articles that end with “If you need an attorney call me,” but I do want people to see that I know what I’m talking about, that I’m smart and hard working, and hopefully, based upon my writing, they’d either consider hiring me, or refer me to someone else. My blog is my website, and I’ll sometimes answer people’s legal questions too. I think that’s a lot different than asking people if they would use “blogs” as a “resource to find a lawyer for a personal matter.”
Finally, the whole poll is flawed and skewed because the sample selection. They asked 1,000 adults with landline telephones what they thought of the big scary internet. Of course they are going to find serious skepticism and fear. I haven’t had a landline telephone in years, and many people I know don’t have one either. I’m sure if they conducted an online poll, the overall results would be quite different.
Anyway, I’m going to keep on blogging because, again, I enjoy writing. And if I get a client or two out of it, so much the better.