Meeting the Market for Legal Services
The Jury is In: Legal Services are a Tough Sell
JOHN R. LUND
Over three million people now call Utah home and over 250,000 small businesses operate in our state. Those businesses employ over 500,000 people, which is nearly half of the private workforce. https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/advocacy/Utah.pdf. These numbers are from 2013. They are probably higher today as a result of Utah having one of the strongest economies in the nation since then, http://www.businessinsider.com/the-15-us-states-with-the-strongest-economies-2017-3. That is a lot of prospective clients and upside potential for lawyers, right? Well, maybe.
Of course there are thousands of us Utah lawyers who are ready, willing, and able to provide legal services to these Utahns and Utah businesses. And we lawyers know that there is an abundance of good advice and valuable assistance that we can provide to them. Hey, we are educated. We are smart. We know the law. We work hard.
Yet, very few of these people and businesses routinely use legal services. Indeed, the vast majority have never used a lawyer for anything. They look for solutions online. They buy forms. They go it alone in court. Even larger businesses increasingly try to solve legal issues on their own and only bring in outside counsel as a last resort.
Why? Why don't they call on us? We have nice websites describing our accomplishments, listing our specialties, and even offering free initial consultations. Did I mention that we are smart and could provide valuable assistance? Yet, people and businesses in all economic strata simply don't call, except maybe when they have been injured and know, from exhaustive advertising, that they should.
I wrote about this in my first President's Message in the Sep/Oct 2017 Bar Journal and suggested that one way to find answers is to get proximate to the people involved. We've done that now. At least we've started. We have actually asked numerous Utahns and Utah businesses why they don't utilize legal services and similar questions. I write to report some of those results to you. They present both opportunities and challenges for anyone seeking to be gainfully employed by practicing law in Utah.
The research was conducted by Lighthouse Research, a well-regarded market research firm based here in Salt Lake City. These are people with degrees in statistics and marketing who have conducted both quantitative and qualitative research in Utah on a wide range of issues for a wide range of clients. We asked them to quantitatively research the Utah market for legal services. We asked them to focus on individuals and small businesses, where the potential to expand the demand for lawyers seemed most promising.