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Ultimate Guide to Lead Generation for Law Firms

In today's digital age, law firms face the challenge of standing out in an increasingly crowded online arena. The cornerstone of success in this environment is efficient lead generation – crucial for the growth and longevity of your legal practice.

We've combined our own extensive experience in the field, along with advice from leading industry experts, to demystify digital marketing for law firms. It focuses on leveraging low-cost, yet highly effective strategies for capturing the attention of potential clients and fostering long-term relationships. We'll delve into a range of innovative tactics that go beyond conventional methods, ensuring that your firm not only attracts but also retains a steady stream of clients.

This ultimate guide to lead generation for law firms will provide you with actionable insights and strategies that can transform your firm's approach to client engagement and retention. Let's get started!

What is lead generation for law firms and why is it important?

Lead generation for law firms is the process of identifying and attracting new clients for legal services. It involves strategies such as content marketing, SEO, social media advertising, and lead nurturing. It's important for law firms to generate leads to grow their client base and increase revenue.

So what exactly is a lead?

Think of a lead as an individual or an entity that's taken a step towards your legal services. This step could be anything from signing up for a free consultation to dropping a query or hopping onto your email list. Once you've got their contact details, that's your cue to engage and nurture this interest, ideally transforming these leads into your clients.

PPC versus PPL

woman looking at a computer screen with two charts

Before we explore some of the best low-cost methods for attorney lead generation, let's address higher cost lead generation services. Two of the most popular tactics today are pay-per-lead (PPL) and pay-per-click advertising. Here's the lowdown: PPL is like hiring a fishing guide; you pay only for the leads that are handed to you, ready to bite. It's great if you're new to the digital scene or want to boost your lead volume without diving deep into marketing strategies yourself.

PPC, on the other hand, is akin to setting up your own fishing net. You pay for each click your Google ads or Facebooks ads get, essentially betting on your ability to attract the right fish – potential clients – through clever advertising and keyword savvy.

Now, here's where it gets tricky. PPL is predictably priced per lead and outsources the marketing muscle, but you miss out on valuable market insights. PPC offers quicker results and more control over your campaigns, but the waters are fiercely competitive, and the costs per click, especially in legal fields, can be sky-high. Plus, managing PPC is like keeping your boat steady in choppy waters – it demands constant attention and tweaking.

So, if you're choosing between PPL and PPC, think about your budget, marketing skills, and how hands-on you want to be. Moreover, before shipping out for more costly methods, make sure to read on you explore more cost-effective (and potentially more valuable) lead generation for law firms.

Are lead generation agencies worth it?

You know, when you're considering a lead generation agency for your law firm, it's a bit like fishing in unknown waters. Sure, the idea of a steady stream of leads sounds tempting, but it's not all smooth sailing. Let’s face it – while agencies like Nolo and FindLaw might reel in those exclusive leads, they often come with a hefty price tag. And here’s the kicker: the consistency of these leads? Well, it can be hit or miss.

Then there's the case of broad-spectrum services like Thumbtack. They cast a wider net across various professions, which sounds great in theory, but for specialized law firms, this can mean getting leads that are, frankly, a bit off the mark. And while platforms like LegalZoom skip the referral fees, they demand a significant discount on your services. It's a bit of a catch-22, isn't it?

So, before you jump on board with a lead generation agency, it's worth weighing these potential drawbacks. Sometimes, what glitters might not be gold, and in the competitive world of legal services, making the right choice can make all the difference.

How much is lead generation for law firms?

According to Expandi's comprehensive analysis of over 100 lead generation agencies, it's clear that there are two predominant pricing models in the industry: retainer-based pricing and cost per lead pricing. On average, firms are investing $198 for each lead. When it comes to securing appointments, the average expenditure varies between $150 and $250.

For those opting for retainer services, the monthly investment typically falls within the range of $3,000 to $20,000, highlighting the varied scale of lead generation efforts and the investments law firms are making to capture new opportunities.

How does American Bar Association influence lead generation for law firms?

a US courtroom

The American Bar Association (ABA) significantly influences lead generation strategies for law firms through its ethical guidelines, particularly outlined in ABA Rule 7.2. This rule mandates ethical advertising by prohibiting compensation for customer testimonials and misleading claims in advertisements. Law firms are instructed to avoid making unverifiable claims of superiority or guarantees about case outcomes.

Additionally, in some states, legal advertising must include the firm's physical office address, and all communications should clearly identify the responsible lawyer or firm. These guidelines ensure that law firms' lead generation and advertising strategies are both ethical and transparent, aligning with the profession's standards. So, before you execute your online advertising strategy, make sure you have all your ducks in a row!

infographic showing the law firm marketing stats for USA

Law firm marketing ideas that won’t break the bank

Let's face it, the world of attorney marketing sometimes gets a bit of a side-eye. The old stereotypes – think ambulance chasers or copycat strategies from the law firm next door – just don't cut it in today's savvy market. Gone are the days when any publicity was good publicity. Now, we're in an era where your prospective client is more informed and discerning than ever before.

Enter the age of innovative and affordable marketing strategies. Legal marketing experts are now pointing towards a plethora of cutting-edge options. From leveraging AI-powered chatbots on your law firm's website to embracing the role of a YouTube influencer, the possibilities seem endless. But let's be real – amidst this digital marketing whirlwind, what's actually going to deliver the results and boost your website traffic without blowing your marketing budget?

We've rolled up our sleeves and dived deep into the wisdom pool of the legal industry's top minds. Our goal? To sift through the noise and unearth those golden nuggets of marketing ideas for law firms; those that truly resonate with your target audience, generate those valuable legal leads, and ultimately, offer substantial ROI for your law firm.

We pooled our resources and consulted with some of the legal industry’s biggest experts to help you cut through the hype and find out what tactics really work for generating free or low-cost leads for your business. Right, let's dive into the top legal marketing ideas and lead generation for law firms!

(And if you need one central place to keep tabs on everything that’s happening with your leads, check this out.

1. Give stuff away

Providing value to prospective clients is a tried and tested tactic used across all industries, and there's a good reason it's our top tip for lead generation for law firms.

“One of the most creative ways to get free or low-cost leads is to provide complimentary or low-cost continuing education courses for your target demographic.”

— Stacey Burke, Attorney & Owner, Stacey E. Burke, P.C.

When it comes to getting free or low-cost leads, like recognizes like.

If you ask experts like personal injury trial lawyer turned legal marketing superstar Stacey Burke, she’ll tell you:
In today’s #LegalTech age, the ability to provide in-person value is everything.

If you’re ready to boost the ROI on your law firm marketing efforts, it’s time to get creative. And it’s time to get generous. “One of the most creative ways to get free or low-cost leads is to provide complimentary or low-cost continuing education courses for your target demographic,” says Stacey.

And if you’re going to put in the effort to create a stellar free course or seminar, why not go the extra mile and get it accredited? (Bonus points if you throw in some donuts, too.)

“Be sure to get your course accredited by the appropriate authority for each target industry. If a potential client or existing client with the potential to send you more business can get both the value of your content/advice and continuing education hours (and even throw in a free breakfast or lunch), they are more likely to attend and engage with you,” Stacey suggests.

2. Claim your online niche

Nest up in our guide to lead generation for law firms is the importance of carving out an ideal niche for your legal business.

“To get leads you must be the best in your niche and you must get that message out through online media.”

— Kenneth A. Grady, Adjunct Professor & Research Fellow, Michigan State University College of Law

Let’s face it. These days, Google is everyone’s first stop for counsel.

In fact, according to a 2017 poll from iLawyerMarketing, 57% of respondents indicated they would use a smartphone if searching online for a lawyer.
You might be surprised to learn that people would make important decisions (like who they should hire to handle their legal affairs) while waiting in the doctor’s office or drive-thru line, but that’s the reality. And experts like Kenneth Grady have been on to this for years.

The retired lawyer is known for redefining legal department-law firm relationships and for his prolific insights in tech innovation in the changing legal services market.

According to Kenneth, “To get leads you must be the best in your niche and you must get that message out through online media. Clients want lawyers who can get them from problem to solution efficiently, quickly, and at a reasonable cost. Those lawyers who are most successful at delivering that message online will draw the most client contacts.”

3. Optimize your law firm's website

Your law firm's website is a crucial component in your lead generation strategy. It's ill-advised to spend thousands on PPC ads and lead magnets if you're website isn't up to scratch. It serves as the first point of contact for many potential clients and needs to be optimized for both visibility and user experience. Here's how you can enhance your website to attract quality leads effectively and in a cost-efficient manner.

Start with ensuring your contact information is easy to find. Having a visible phone number or a quick contact form on every page, including on mobile-friendly versions, makes it convenient for potential clients to reach out. Remember, the easier it is for them to contact you, the more likely they are to do so.

Next, focus on the design of your website. A professional and user-friendly design can significantly impact how visitors perceive your brand. Incorporate elements that reflect your expertise in areas like family law or whichever legal services you specialize in. Use design to guide visitors naturally through your site, leading them to information they seek and actions you want them to take, like scheduling a consultation.

Fortunately, today website design is easier than it used to be, and companies such as Webflow and Canva have many law firm website templates to provide you inspiration.

A computer screen saying design here

When it comes to digital marketing, content is still king – and this is equally true for law firm websites. High-quality, informative content not only helps with local SEO but also establishes your firm as an authority in your field. Regularly update your blog with posts relevant to your practice areas and client needs. Share updates about your firm, industry insights, and client testimonials. Use effective content marketing to improve your rankings in organic search results, enhancing your visibility online.

Landing pages are your secret weapon for converting visitors into leads. Create specific pages for different legal services you offer, each with a clear and direct call to action. These pages should detail what you offer and how you can help, guiding website visitors toward providing their contact information or taking another step in your sales funnel. Shape will even help to build a you slick landing page that converts, using customizable template options that save you time and money.

Level up your law firm SEO

Getting to the top of Google search engine results isn't always as difficult as it may appear, especially with regard to local SEO. This is due to the fact that most law firms underestimate the important of digital marketing. With a little research and careful investment, there's a high chance you can get your law firm's website in Google's snack pack. A strong Google Business Profile, procuring online reviews, and getting listed in relevant directories all help with search engine optimization. These tools can drive traffic to your website, increasing your pool of potential clients. Ensure your website design and content align with these advertising efforts for a cohesive user experience.

A computer screen saying SEO performance

Lastly, don't forget to leverage client reviews and testimonials. Positive feedback from past clients can significantly boost your credibility and brand awareness. Display these prominently on your site to assure potential clients of your expertise and success in handling cases similar to theirs.

By optimizing your website with these strategies, you're not just enhancing its look and feel – you're transforming it into an effective tool for generating quality leads, all while keeping an eye on cost-effectiveness and efficiency.

4. Create a buzz

A group of business people sitting around a table

Our 4th tip for lead generation for law firms is creating that all-important buzz.

“Earned media is the gift that keeps on giving.”

— Erin Levine, Founder & CEO, Hello Divorce

Okay, we get it—making waves on Google is important.

Thing is, it’s really noisy out there.

That’s why experts like Erin Levine, Founder & CEO of Bay Area law firm Hello Divorce suggest that once you’ve nailed your standout message—it’s time to hit the headlines.
“I think one of the best ways to get free leads is earned media,” says Erin. “It’s the gift that keeps on giving.” Today 92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth recommendations. Only 24% trust online ads.
Earned media is your digital word-of-mouth.

Erin’s been featured in Entrepreneur, Brit+Co, Forbes, mindbodygreen, Above the Law, Hey Mama and many other publications. And the more interviews she gives, the more leads she gets.

“The more you position yourself as a ‘thought leader,’ the more press opportunities you will have,” Erin explains.

Just make sure you’re ready for the influx in traffic. “Once the post, article or blog is on the internet, anyone can access it. If the site has good SEO, it’s a huge bonus,” she suggests.

After that, it’s all about testing and tracking to optimize your best lead sources. “If you are going to spend money on marketing and/or lead generation, it’s best to diversify — at least until you have enough data to determine where your most qualified leads are coming from,” she suggests.

5. Go bold with social media

four hands with four mobile screens with text - follow, tweet, share, live stream

“Social media is probably the best way to find your audience and speak to them in creative and low-cost ways.”

— Billie Tarascio, Owner, Modern Law, Modern Law Practice and Access Legal

For attorneys, social media can feel like the ultimate can of worms. Obviously, you want to keep it professional when you’re chatting away on Facebook (after all, in a court of law, there is no such thing as ‘delete’).
Still, that doesn’t mean your social media game has to be boring.

According to ace attorney, Billie Tarascio, the key is to keep it customer-centric. “Social media is probably the best way to find your audience and speak to them in creative and low-cost ways. Social media is micro media. You can say what you want to say and build your audience. The first step is to understand your consumer and talk about what they want to hear,” says Billie.

The owner of Modern Law , Modern Law Practice and Access Legal (who also happens to be a self-proclaimed undying optimist) is known for her ability to break down the tech trends and help attorneys lead happier, more successful practices.

But Billie warns against getting too comfy with any specific tactic. “By challenging assumptions and running tests you can customize your messaging and get free and low-cost leads. Then, it’s very important to have an intake system to process those leads and convert them into clients,” she explains.

It’s a point that bears repeating. Social media can be a tough nut to crack. The last thing you want to do after putting your blood, tears and sweat into generating free or low-cost social media leads is let them sit for weeks in your inbox or get lost in the shuffle between a million different tech platforms.

Aim for a single, central place where you can buckle down and focus on conversion.

6. Be responsive

two lawyers looking at a tablet screen

“When you’re responsive and known for doing a good job, it’s so much easier for other lawyers to refer you cases while alleviating their concerns that you might steal their client.”

— Adam Camras, CEO, LAWgical

Adam Camras is the CEO of LAWgical, the company that owns and operates leading legal brands, including Legal Talk Network, ServeNow and ServeManage.

And he’s not afraid to tell it like it is.

“There are lots of cost-effective ways to generate leads however, I’m a big believer in responsiveness, doing a good job and being known in a specific practice area expert. As opposed to being a Door Lawyer,” says Adam.

What’s a ‘Door Lawyer’, you ask?

In case you haven’t heard the term before, a ‘Door Lawyer’ is a lawyer who takes any case that comes through the door. And according to Adam, it’s a terrible way to run your firm.

“When you’re responsive and known for doing a good job, it’s so much easier for other lawyers to refer you cases while alleviating their concerns that you might steal their client. They want to look good by referring prospects to the best lawyer for their matter. This also makes it so much easier to effectively target your marketing which, depending on your practice area, should be a combination of digital, traditional and networking,” Adam explains.

If you don’t already use a system that lets you customize and automate your lead nurturing and management, get one now. The right tool will make it easy for you to connect with prospects faster.

7. Focus on relationships

two lawyers shaking hands

“Lawyers that have learned to leverage technology to achieve these objectives will continue to earn new business.”

— Gyi Tsakalakis, President, AttorneySyn

Not all leads are created equal.

Part of refusing to be a ‘Door Lawyer’ is committing to your role as a relationship-builder.
Gyi Tsakalakis is a lawyer, SEO genius and former football coach who’s helped law firms of all shapes and sizes get more leads by focusing on one thing above all else:
Meaningful connection.

According to Gyi, “The most efficient way to earn meaningful attention from potential clients remains much the same as it always has been: creating, nurturing, and solidifying professional relationships and demonstrating knowledge, skill, and experience (reputation).”

With all the hype about being replaced by robots, we think Gyi’s onto something. Today, 66% of consumers say they’ll switch brands if they feel treated like a number, not an individual.
Your ability to build a personal, human connection is your competitive advantage in the new legal era. “Lawyers that have learned to leverage technology to achieve these objectives will continue to earn new business,” predicts Gyi.

8. Harness the power of email marketing

A man holding a tablet screen with email notification in it

When it comes to lead generation for law firms, email marketing is proven to be one of the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal. A pivotal strategy that merges the personal touch with digital effectiveness, it goes beyond just sending out a barrage of cold emails. The real art lies in forging meaningful connections. Considering that 64% of small businesses use email marketing to reach their customers, and with email marketing revenue expected to reach nearly 11 billion by 2023, this tool holds immense potential for law firms.

The key to success is personalization. Emails that are personalized see a 26% higher open rate and a 14% increase in click-through rates. Think of your email as a digital handshake, an opportunity to build rapport with potential clients by sharing valuable insights and updates that resonate with them. The goal is to create content that directly speaks to the reader's legal concerns or interests, with a clear and concise message and a compelling call to action.

A successful email marketing campaign relies on your understanding of and ability to cater to your audience. Whether it's sharing news about new services and successes or providing educational content like blog posts and legal guides, every email should bring value. Adhering to best practices like crafting engaging subject lines, sending emails at optimal times, and ensuring CAN-SPAM compliance is crucial.

In an era where personalization can often be lost in digital communication, email marketing provides an unmatched personal touch to lead generation for law firms. It's a chance to demonstrate your expertise and foster trust, transforming leads into committed clients.

Shape provides cutting-edge email automation that can boost lead generation for law firms

Shape provides cutting-edge email automation that can boost lead generation for law firms

Shape's email automation feature streamlines the way your law firms connect with potential clients, making it a breeze to send out personalized and engaging email campaigns. This handy tool not only saves precious time but also keeps the conversation going with prospective clients, gently guiding them down the path to becoming loyal clients of the firm

9. Be original​

Color by numbers lead generation for lawyers has never been Shape's style, and it shouldn't be yours.

“Do what works best and feels most natural for you and the clients will come.”

— Jamie Lieberman, Partner, Hashtag Legal LLC

It’s always great to lift your head above the water from time to time and take a look around at what’s really working in the industry.

But beware. Copying another firm’s marketing strategy will almost never get you the results you’re after.

When she’s not busy running multiple legal businesses (or dying her hair pink), you can usually find Jamie Lieberman advising digital content creators on how to keep their work and businesses protected. And yes, she’s seen it all.

“The worst way to get leads is to copy someone else’s marketing strategy. Do what works best and feels most natural for you and the clients will come,” she advises.

10. Nurture client relationships post-engagement

A lawyer and client signing a contract

We may have covered some of this already, but a guide to lead generation for law firms wouldn't be complete without doubling down on the importance nurturing client relationships. Today, law firms face many challenges retaining clients, and research conducted by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company indicates that a 5% increase in customer retention rates can lead to a profit boost ranging from 25% to 95%.

So, after the conclusion of legal services, there's a huge opportunity to build enduring relationships with clients. Given that lead generation for law firms often comes from word of mouth (with studies showing that 59% by someone they know) creating a lasting impression goes beyond the final verdict or settlement.

There's no question: maintaining positive relationships with former clients is the foundation for generating new, high quality leads.

Below are aome effective ways to keep those connections alive and those leads hot!

By adopting these strategies, you can transform the end of a legal service into the beginning of an ongoing client relationship, fostering a network of loyal clients and referrals, crucial for the growth and sustainability of your law firm.

How Shape levels up lead generation for law firms

That wraps up our guide to the best legal marketing ideas and low-cost lawyer lead generation tips. Deciding how to allocate your marketing spend requires careful research and precise execution. For example, if you decide to invest in ppc advertising and lead generation companies, it's important you have other things in place, like your law firm's website and a great CRM.

Speaking of CRM's, Shape Software is a standout choice for law firms seeking to enhance their lead generation strategies. Highlighted as a top CRM by the Lawyerist, Shape offers a suite of robust features tailored for the legal industry. Shape's cutting edge Lead Engine (helping to covert and qualify 60% more leads) and it's email automation capabilities effectively transform web traffic into potential clients. Furthermore, our in-built Customer Portal and tailored AI tools further elevate client engagement and optimize lead management.

Shape reporting dashboard

Our platforms flexibility is further underscored by a user-friendly mobile app, enabling lawyers to manage their practice from anywhere. This adaptability is essential in today's dynamic legal environment. By incorporating Shape Software, you're leveraging a comprehensive tool specifically designed to maximize lead generation for law firms.

Book a demo today and find out for yourself why Shape is recommended by top lawyers and has a 4.7 score on G2.

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