IAALS' First-of-its-Kind Study Will Determine What Clients Value in Their Lawyers

What do clients want from their attorneys? The answers to that question would seem to be key to understanding how to improve the quality and diversity of legal services. Identifying what clients value in their lawyers has been a challenge because clients are difficult to identify and survey. But, now we have a source of precisely the information we need. IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, is partnering with Avvo, an online legal services marketplace, on a new project: “Think Like a Client.” This first-of-its-kind effort was announced today from the 6th Annual Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Conference.

Avvo helps to connect lawyers and consumers, and features publicly available information such as detailed profiles with background information, reviews, and ratings for 97% of practicing lawyers in the U.S. in its legal directory—including more than 800,000 client reviews. Through a collaboration with Avvo, IAALS researchers will analyze those reviews to capture the clients’ voice and report out on what it is they are saying.  

“If we want to make the legal system better at meeting client needs, it seems obvious that we need to ask clients about their experiences. That’s relatively easy to do when you’re talking about corporate clients, but it gets trickier when you’re trying to tap into individual clients,” explained Alli Gerkman, who directs IAALS’ work related to the legal profession. “The data set that Avvo has developed by giving clients an opportunity to comment on their experiences with lawyers provides us a window into the minds of clients. IAALS’ Think Like a Client project will give voice to their stories, and ensure those stories support the development of improved legal services and a stronger legal system.”

“Avvo offers an accessible, informative, and comprehensive platform that provides a place for consumers to share their experiences with lawyers,” said Dan Lear, Director of Industry Relations, Avvo. “We aim to not only help people navigate their legal situations with this kind of insight, but to offer lawyers the opportunity to receive valuable, transparent feedback from their clients. We’re excited to participate in this project with IAALS, and anticipate unearthing new findings on the qualities and experiences that consumers value in their legal representation.”

The research phase of Think Like a Client is already underway with the findings to be released in a published report expected out in mid-2018.