What Clients Want v. What Lawyers Sell

There is a disconnect between what clients want and what lawyers sell. Clients, as many commentators have pointed out, just want their legal problem solved.

Consumers don’t want drill bits, they want holes. They don’t want a scanner, they want a digital copy of a paper document. They don’t want a taxi, they want to get home. In each case, the product or service is just a means to an end. But not the only means. There are other ways to get holes, digital documents, and transportation. Sometimes better ways.

Similarly, clients don’t want to hire a lawyer, they just want their legal problem solved.

Clients don’t want a contract, they want a relationship. They don’t want to litigate, they want to right a wrong. They don’t want a divorce, they want to move on with their lives.

Contrast that with what lawyers sell. Do a Google image search for “lawyer billboards.” Nearly all of the results are a picture of a lawyer and an adjective before the word lawyer. This woman, the personal injury lawyer. This guy, the family lawyer. Maybe the lawyer billboards on found on Google aren’t the most representative cross-section of lawyer advertising, but consider all you hear about personal branding and professional networking. It seems like most lawyers are selling, well, lawyers.

But remember, most of the time the client doesn’t want a lawyer. The client wants a solution.

When you talk to clients and referral sources—face-to-face, on your website, in your ad campaigns, etc.—are you talking about yourself or are you talking about solutions to their problems?

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  • Love this discussion. Clients hire lawyers for peace of mind and ease of use. Lawyers who provide a customer experience that is warm, engaging and easy will enjoy more clients and a more satisfying practice.

  • Paul Spitz

    I think this post hints at how lawyers can succeed in a world where cheap documents are easily available from vendors like legalzoom and clerky. I tell prospective clients that I’m not selling paper with ink on it. I’m selling them the peace of mind that they are getting exactly what they need, and that I’ll be here to answer any questions they have.