Legal Lead Generation: How Not To Get Burned

Nicole Gant
4 min read

Why use lead generation at all?

Every law firm, no matter how long established, needs paying clients not only to pay the bills, but to stay relevant, grow its reputation, and enhance its long-term success. The chief advantage of using lead generation to help is that it moves a key driver of your business – client acquisition – lower down on the list of tasks that your attorneys and other personnel need to focus on.

And generated leads may not be as flashy as TV spots or outdoor ads, but they have another key benefit: Every lead represents – at least theoretically – an actual client with a case, not just a chance to put your hat in the ring.

It’s not just a matter of win-loss statistics: with more clients and cases, your firm also has more opportunities to exploit economies of scale in case preparation. That means every employee’s efforts can have a greater effect, especially when it comes to cases where the case law and relevant expertise from one client can be usefully applied to another

However, your firm has a unique set of personnel, specialities, and experience, which means not every potential client will be a good fit. The number of cases you can handle at once depends on the number of attorneys on staff, as well as the complexity of your typical caseload.

Not all leads are created equal

A quick survey finds no shortage of potential case leads for law firms; in fact, searching online for “legal case leads” alone yields hundreds of millions of hits. Even when you refine your quest by locale and practice areas, the sheer numbers are overwhelming – but case leads are not interchangeable. While every case taken on might boost the firm’s depth of experience, that doesn’t mean you ever want to take on cases lacking legal merit, or without a reasonable chance of success.

You may pay less per lead for a collection of leads that are less thoroughly vetted, but the average value of those cases to your firm will likely be lower. Your firm’s tolerance for risk will vary, like any individual’s, but the more factors you consider, the easier it is to see that you can’t simply purchase unexamined leads in bulk and expect them to boost your client roster. Consider all the ways a lead can be wrong for your own firm; would you pursue a case where these factors apply?

- The case centers on facts outside your areas of practice or expertise

- The events of the incident took place outside a jurisdiction in which you are licensed to practice or have licensed affiliates

- The potential client has already taken on legal representation

- The cost of representation would exceed the likely calccnet value of the claim

- The events at the heart of the claim are no longer within any relevant statutes of limitation

If any of these factors would knock a case out of consideration in a phone or in-office consultation, the same should apply with a third-party lead.

What to look for instead

The downsides to naively accepting leads without regard for their quality or fit are obvious: You’ll end up paying for (and sifting through) potential plaintiff’s cases with only a small chance that they’ll be a good fit for your firm.

The more closely a source of generated leads echoes your own screening process, the more valuable each of the actual leads will be. Ideally, the incidents represented by third-party leads will precisely match the kind that you’d want to take on in a case.

In evaluating a lead source, think of the typical questions you’d want to ask a client who called or emailed your office for a consultation, and determine whether a similar set of questions is used to spot best-fit cases in the leads provided. Those screening questions need not be identically phrased, but their basic content needs to be close enough to prevent either over-acceptance or under-acceptance. For instance, you might want to accept cases only when:

  • Events took place or are sufficiently connected to a state in which your firm practices
  • The extent of Injuries or other damages mean the case’s potential value would make it worth taking
  • The plaintiff is not the at-fault party
  • The events took place within the relevant timeframe for filing
  • The potential client is still looking for an attorney, and has not accepted other counsel

(If you have to stray one way or the other, though, favor accepting more rather than fewer leads; you can always eliminate some as off-base for your firm, but you can’t act on cases that are culled before you see them.)

Finally, you want a lead source willing to back up their leads’ quality in writing, in case you find yourself stuck with useless data instead of valid potential clients.

A parting word

There are more than 1.3 million lawyers in the U.S. In that competitive environment, you ignore lead generation sources at your peril – and vetting those sources is key. Using a trusted source of leads like Legal Growth Marketing raises the value of every lead you receive, because you can rely on their multi-point case screening questions as a starting point for your own case evaluation procedures.

Case outcomes are uncertain; what is certain is that more cases bring more opportunities for success. Want to learn more about how LGM can help? We’re happy to walk you through the process of generating the kind of leads that work for you, and to explain why we back our leads with an easy return and refund process.