Practicing Law Today in the U.S. and Florida – Part 1

Legal Edge Services

Statistics show where attorneys are, how clients find them

In this two-part article, we share statistics about practicing law today in the U.S., and in Florida specifically. Plus data you can act on to help clients find you faster. In Part 1, we’ll find out where attorneys are, how clients find attorneys, and how you can help them find you faster. In Part 2 of Practicing Law Today, we’ll look at how attorneys bill, how they get paid, and how much they earn.

Statistics and data can lead us to revelations that inspire us. We may modify a perception, change a procedure, or even alter our course based on new data. Special thanks to the 2020 ABA Profile of the Legal Profession and Clio’s 2020 Legal Trends Report for many of the statistics referenced here.

Lawyer numbers and locations

Did you know that more than 1.3 million attorneys are practicing law today in the U.S.? That’s an average of four lawyers for every 1,000 residents. Most lawyers are in New York, which has the greatest ratio at 9.5 lawyers per 1,000 residents. Maryland is second at 6.7 per 1,000. Massachusetts ranks third at 6.2 attorneys per 1,000 residents.

If you practice law in Florida, the competition is not as intense as in New York. That’s because Florida has 3.7 lawyers per 1,000 residents.

In Florida, the counties with the highest populations of attorneys are no surprise. The leaders are Miami-Dade (16,237 attorneys), Broward (10,045), and Palm Beach (7,816). That’s a total of 34,098 attorneys in South Florida.

The Tampa area follows at 11,119 lawyers, with 7,429 in Hillsborough County and 3,690 in neighboring Pinellas. Orange County, dominated by Orlando, has 6,555 attorneys. Jacksonville’s Duval County has 4,003. And Leon County, home to the seat of state government in Tallahassee, has 3,263 attorneys. At just 3.7 attorneys for every 1,000 residents, there’s plenty of room for everyone practicing law today.

How clients find attorneys practicing law today

Data indicates that 59% of clients find an attorney by seeking referrals. Friends and family are the most common source. In some of these cases, a degree of hearsay may be involved. (Example: “My friend Carol said her friend Karen used so-and-so for her divorce.”). Another source of referrals is other lawyers, as in when a client is seeking a different set of skills. In addition, other business professionals can provide referrals, such as an individual’s accountant or banker, realtor or hair stylist.

Nearly as many clients (57%) conduct online searches for an attorney. Clients can browse the Florida Bar Association website looking for specialties. They can also conduct online searches for “best probate attorney near me” or “bankruptcy lawyers in Fort Lauderdale” as just two examples.

Between these two groups, an overlap of 16% combine referral-seeking with online research. This may give them a better chance to find a suitable attorney.

How to help clients find you

Are you actively practicing law today, and accepting new clients? There are many tools available to help clients find you, and your marketing plan should use at least four:

  • Maintain a website, and post on at least one social media platform to point back to your website.
  • Advertise in various directories and run online ads.
  • Give clients easy ways to reach you, with a phone number, an email address, and a contact form on your website.
  • Send email newsletters to remind your mailing list of your services and credentials, with links back to your website.
  • Attend professional networking events to share your message with individuals who could become future clients or referral sources.
  • Publish press releases periodically to share news about your firm, announce new services, share testimonials, and link back to your website.
  • Develop reciprocal referral arrangements with attorneys in different practice areas.

As an attorney practicing law today, you have many tools to help prospective clients find you through their online research or referral seeking activities. Be sure to use them!

Coming up in Part 2 of Practicing Law Today

In our next post, we’ll explore how attorneys bill and which method is most effective. We’ll look at how attorneys get paid, and how clients prefer to pay.