LawyerLocator is the online version of the long established Butterworths Law Directory and Scottish Law Directory now offered by LexisNexis. The print directories are fully indexed and provide a comprehensive directory of UK solicitors, law firms and barristers in private practice, commerce, local government and public authorities.

LawyerLocator was established in 2000 as an online directory for the print offerings. Originally, the directories were used mainly by solicitors and other professionals but there has been an increasing volume of non-lawyer traffic over the last few years, and in 2010 the site has been relaunched as a consumer facing law firm comparison site.

How it works

The user (the potential client) can search for a law firm by postcode, name, area of legal specialism and town as well as by 12 other criteria including, for example, whether they offer no win/no fee services or fixed fee services, and whether they have extended office hours.

The user is able to explain their legal issue online (guided by a user-friendly taxonomy of legal issues) as well as provide as much information as they like about their specific legal issue. The resultant summary is then sent to up to 10 firms, including any that the user has indicated but also to other firms selected automatically by LawyerLocator on various criteria including their postcode.

The law firm receives an email informing them that they have a new business enquiry and the firm can log in to their dashboard to view the client details and the information the user has provided about their legal issue. If the firm decides they want more detail about the specific legal issue they are able to communicate freely with the potential client. The law firm is then able to make an offer to the potential client to win the instruction.

The user may not need a solicitor at all

LawyerLocator does not presume that every user needs a solicitor. The platform caters for 3 main types of users:

1. I have a legal issue I want resolved now! These users would use the quick search facility to find a solicitor on the site.

2. I think I have a legal issue. These users would use the site to better understand their legal issues and ultimately look for and then instruct a solicitor

3. I do not know if I have a legal issue. These users can answer a series of questions to get a view as to whether or not they have a legal issue that requires legal advice. If they do, the system then suggests the most suitable firm to their specific legal issue

Robert Farquharson, director of LexisNexis LawyerLocator, feels that LawyerLocator is the only truly impartial service for consumers and SMEs in the marketplace as at no point does it force a user to make contact with a solicitor. LawyerLocator offers visitors researching their issue a library of background information, and concise articles explaining their legal issue. If the visitor is ready to discuss their enquiry with a solicitor, the site allows the user to make up their own mind having given them access to free legal content relevant to their legal issue.

How does it work for the firm?

There is no minimum subscription fee and all firms receive a free basic listing on LawyerLocator which enables them to appear in search results and does not preclude them from being shortlisted and instructed by a consumer/SME.

There are however a number of communications packages (providing extended entries) which make it more likely that a firm will be referred and then allows for a lower rate for an enquiry (£20 as against £40).

Prior to deciding whether or not to take the lead on the law firm can have an open dialog using the secure email functionality within LawyerLocator to establish whether the consumer/SME truly has a legal issue.

Several hundred firms are using LawyerLocator actively as a referral service.

Communication packages

Communication packages (to provide extended entries) are available from £199 per annum and guarantee the following benefits:

  • Priority placement – which means the firms listing will always appear the above free listings
  • Dedicated and trackable telephone number
  • Link to the firm’s website
  • Option for users to view the firm’s full details – such as individual solicitors, areas of specialism, opening times, fees and law firm descriptions etc…
  • Marketing

    Robert Farquharson says “We are using a mixture of online and offline methods. We use SEM as well as SEO as well as advertising on relevant websites and print publications. We have recently announced a strategic partnership with The Guardian that will see LawyerLocator included in the law section of The Guardian’s Website to help reach as wide an audience as possible. In addition to marketing we have been running PR campaigns including publishing a white paper that has been picked up by regional newspapers and trade publications.”

    User reports

    User reports were rather mixed. One user thought it was not really useful and another said it was too early to say.

    Andrew Ewbank of Hodge Jones Allen LLP was more positive. His firm, near to Euston in London, acts for private and legally aided clients across most legal areas. He says: “We have had an entry in Butterworth’s law directory for a long time but it is only this year that we have started to proactively engage with and benefit from the online lead generation service that Lawyer Locator offers.

    Honestly, the leads have been a real mixture. Many people are either shopping around or seeking free advice, or simply don’t have a case to start with. Then you add the fact that you are often one of 10 solicitors firms who receive each lead and to pay the £20 to access the client’s details is sometimes a deterrent if you aren’t able to action the enquiry immediately. However, with the few we have responded to and taken on, the Lawyer Locator service has proved very easy to use and proactive and we have taken on some very good clients. It is certainly currently good value for money as it covers all our services for the one annual charge, and provides an extra online source of work.

    I am using their additional monitoring and analytical facilities more and more, which is proving to be another effective source to understand what our clients are looking for on the web and in the market place – and exactly how they are looking for it.”

    Norma Morris of Curwens is keeping an open mind. Curwens is a long-established, medium-sized law practice which is growing and developing into a more commercial, regional practice, but still retaining its High Street client base.

    She says: “We have been using LawyerLocator as a referral service for about 2 years, across our 4 offices. It has produced some good clients but not an enormous number yet. It doesn’t filter out enquirers seeking legal aid (which we no longer do). We will monitor the services for this year and assess the return on investment then. We will keep an open mind and wouldn’t rule them out, depending on cost etc. They usually have larger marketing budgets than lawyers!”

    Finally …

    My own view is that Lawyer Locator has an enormous advantage in the number of solicitors it has access to, from the basis of the printed directories, and with LexisNexis Butterworth behind it, but it still has some work to do to make this a really effective service.

    Delia Venables is joint Editor of this Newsletter.


    With assistance from Jeremy Hill