Nice website or fancy suit? How to impress the Millennial legal consumer

The Millennial legal consumer has, until recently, been sort of a mystery. What kinds of legal issues do most Millennials have? How do they resolve them? Do they hire lawyers, and if so, what do they care about when they decide who to hire? On behalf of Avvo, I’ve recently conducted some intensive research on Millennials and how they approach finding legal help, culminating in a whitepaper, a blog entry on mobile use, and a blog entry on who they hire. And now I’m about to share another insight from that research with all of you lawyers. Ready?

Millennials care what your website looks like. Mind-blowing, right?

Ok, maybe not mind-blowing. Millennials practically live online. They consider their mobile phones mini personal computers that are always on their sides. So, of course, they’d care about website design, navigation, content…all of that stuff. But what is sort of surprising is that more Millennials care about how your website looks than about how you look. When I asked Millennials to rate the importance of various factors in determining which lawyer to hire, 28% said that whether a lawyer has a really nice website is important while only 17% said that a lawyer’s personal appearance matters.

I recently interviewed Millennial legal consumers about the importance of a lawyer’s website. Here’s what they said:

Your website is where you make your most powerful impression

One Millennial told me that as long as a lawyer looks presentable, how they dress doesn’t really matter. But their website does. Why? “The website is where you make your first impression…First impressions mean everything.” Your website matters more than whether you wear an expensive outfit or something casual. It might even matter more than the décor in your office waiting room. Your website might determine whether someone even sees your waiting room.

A nice website means you’re a professional

A lawyer’s website is most likely the place where Millennials draw conclusions about your level of professionalism. One Millennial I talked to said “I’ve dealt with attorneys with jeans and with suits. Really, I can’t say it doesn’t make a difference because it does with a judge. But if two attorneys had the exact same background but dressed differently, I won’t let that be a factor.” A lawyer’s website, however, is a different story for this Millennial: “You can have a casual appearance and still do a good job; but if a website is not professional, then I’d assume they don’t act professionally either.”

A nice website means you care

If you don’t take the time to present yourself to the world in a well-designed way, then Millennials are likely to assume that you won’t take the time to help them with their case. One Millennial who was looking to hire told me that she considered each website as a reflection of how much the attorney cared about their law practice.

So if you’re debating about whether to spend your money on a web design consultant or a brand new suit, go with the consultant. First impressions are where it’s at, and those impressions are being made online. I’m not saying to forego the shower or to skip brushing your hair. Just that, if you are honing in on attracting Millennials as your clients, make sure your website is current, easy to use, and informative in relevant ways. And don’t just trust your gut on that. Web design isn’t a class taught at most law schools, and there’s a lot to it. That’s why hiring a design expert to evaluate and perhaps revamp your site might not be a bad idea. Whatever you do, don’t assume you’re on the right track without doing some research first. And when it comes to Millennials, don’t assume that you’ll make up for a bad website with a good personal introduction. A bad website might not even get you that far.