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Paying for leads? (Nolo.com)

I have been speaking with someone from Nolo about their leads program.  Does anyone have experience with them (I guess this is a fairly new program for Nolo)?  One thing I like about it is that you pay upfront and each lead is deducted from that deposit, with no limit on the length of time.  This seems less risky to me than the programs where you pay a flat rate each month.  

I have limited funds for marketing (or anything, for that matter).  I have a "retail" practice (SSDI/SSI).  Just starting to build my practice, and am open to any suggestions.  Winning one hearing a month right now would be awesome.
Post edited by samglover on


  • samgloversamglover Minneapolis, MN Admin
    I'm completely unconvinced that Nolo can generate quality leads, but my impression is based on talking with them over five years ago, so who knows what may have changed since then...
  • I talked to Nolo and called references that were given to me.  Each person said that they were not receiving any business.  Nolo is set up for people looking for free advice.
  • When did you call?  They were bought by Internet Brands, and in my area of law (SSDI) they have a lot of sites (like SS Disability Secrets) that have contact forms.  I saw the leads for a 3 month period in the counties I would be a part of, and of course there were some awful ones, but there also were some potentially very good ones.  I think they limit each county to 3 or for lawyers, and it's up to each of the to pursue the leads or not.


    It sounds like it might be worth it, but in general I am leery.
  • samgloversamglover Minneapolis, MN Admin
    Just about anything is worth trying for a month (assuming it is ethical). Try it, and let us know how it goes.

    On the other hand, if Nolo insists on a longer contract, I'd say no. You should be able to quit if it isn't working.
  • Seth SchraierSeth Schraier New York, New York
    I have been using Nolo since August 2011 as a source of referrals.  I have nothing but good things to say, and I credit them for being one of the main reasons I was able to truly expand my firm. 


    I currently use Nolo for Family Law related matters around New York City, including Child Support, Child Custody, and Divorce.  My rate currently is $600.00 which I have been using up roughly every 1.5 months (I just had my amount updated after last paying for it around Thanksgiving).  The rate is based on what area of law you're contracting with them, and how many leads they usually get in that area per month.  Each time I get a referral, it is usually $20.00 that is subtracted from my debit account. 


    How It Works:  Nolo signed a contract with a company called "Experthub."  They apparently own thousands of websites out there with general keyword names, such as NewYorkDivorceLawyer.net, and other related websites.  Say a client has an issue, such as they simply need an uncontested divorce.  So they type into Google "New York Divorce Lawyer" and Experthub's websites will come up.  Their websites then have client contact forms, where the potential client submits their name, phone, e-mail, county, area of law, and then have an opportunity to describe the specific issue.  Once they hit send, and it is processed by Experthub, you then receive an e-mail in your inbox with the client lead, which is only sent to those law firms that have contracts in the county where the client resides, and in the area of law that they designated.  Once you receive the lead, what you do is then up to you.  If it sound like a potentially good lead, you can give the potential client a ring to talk about the issue and hopefully set up an appointment.  If it sounds like a dud, or a losing case, simply ignore the lead.  In either case, once the lead is generated and sent to you, you have the price per lead subtracted from your debit. 


    The Good:

    I have found that more than 2/3rds of my leads have at least been positive leads.  Every so often it is a dud lead, but the amount that work out, and are paying clients, definitely outweigh the ones that do not work out.  There is also the fact that the leads generated are to a small amount of lawyers.  They only sign contracts with 4 lawyers, per county, per area of law.  So in your main practice area, it means you have at most, three other attorneys who are getting that lead. 


    Since I can often be quite busy throughout the day, whether it is court appearances, or even just communication with other clients, I sometimes don't have time to immediately contact every single lead the second I get them.  However, I have a part time assistant who is usually available all day long to make the lead inquiry, so the second I get the referral to my inbox, I immediately forward it to my assistant, and she will make the call almost immediately.  She also has my calendar synced with her calendar, so she can easily check to see when I'm available to have an appointment with the client. She will try and make that appointment immediately so I can at least get the client through the door. 


    The Bad:  The first thing that I think a lot of people immediately see as a potential issue, is that you're still paying for a referral that if you're not as quick as the potential three other law firms, then you just paid for a lead that you lost because the other law firm was faster than you were.  This service seems to reward the quickest law firms, or the ones who are the most available to respond to inquiries.  There are also very limited ways that you will ever be credited back a bad lead.  For example, just last week, I received a lead from Nolo and before I could even forward the lead to my assistant, the client actually called me first, after finding my firm on Lawyers.com.  So I would have been able to get that client without the referral, but you have to pay for it anyway. 


    I would note however, that Nolo is great about refunding you if you get a duplicate lead.  About 2 months back I received 2 leads sent to me just 10 minutes apart, sent from the same client.  Nolo caught this even before I called them about it, and credited me the duplicate leads.   


    Additionally, the bad leads can be quite frustrating sometimes. Whether it is a client who just wants free legal advice or an answer to their legal question, or whether it is the client who makes an appointment with you, and then no-calls, no-shows, the bad leads are just....bad. 


    The Verdict :  If you are a solo or small firm practitioner, and are looking for a new and relatively cheap way to get more clients through your door, Nolo is the way to go.  Just one paying client can cover the entire month's cost of using the service, and in my experience, I have been able to retain at least 10 a month from Nolo, if not more.   All the staff I have had to deal with have been very accomadating, and even check up on me every so often to see how my law practice is going. 


    Unless you're content with the number of clients you have or are able to generate without Nolo, I highly reccommend Nolo to every solo or small firm out there. 
  • Great info, thanks!  I had talked about structuring the program at first in such a way that $600 would last about 6 months.  One good case would pay for 5 years at that rate!  I think it's worth a shot for me.  I'll report back once I have some experience with them under my belt.
  • samgloversamglover Minneapolis, MN Admin
    That all sounds pretty reasonable.

    It's worth noting that number of quality leads you get will probably vary according to the type of law you practice. For example, I long ago gave up on the idea of representing tenants, because most are looking for free advice, and most of those who are willing to pay probably shouldn't.

    Instead, I networked with public interest organizations that just sent me the cases where it might make sense to sue a landlord on a contingent fee.

    Which is to say that the ROI is going to vary, and Nolo (and other lead generation services) may be worthwhile for some lawyers, but not for others.
  • I agree.  I think for me, doing SSDI/SSI, it makes sense to try it, as they wouldn't be paying me anyway.  
  • I have a problem with leads that are not pre-screened.  That should be part of the cost.  You could probably do a Google Adword campaign for $600/month and get similar results.  Also, they should be taking live calls and have the ability to transfer live.


    Have much are the PI leads?
  • samgloversamglover Minneapolis, MN Admin
    Well, that's a good point. $450 a month would go a long way on AdWords.
  • At least they would be calling him directly.
  • I increased my adwords budget, and just spent $200 in about 10 days.  I did not receive one call.  
  • Yeah, that pay per click is a bunch of crap.  I wish I knew what was effective.
  • samgloversamglover Minneapolis, MN Admin
    We've got a thread on AdWords you might want to take a look at. With $600 per month, you should be able to generate plenty of business, even in a crowded practice area.

    I'm guessing you should take a look at your keywords, and make sure your landing page is well-optimized for converting clients. Stop by the AdWords thread and let us know what you are doing, and we'll try to help.
  • samgloversamglover Minneapolis, MN Admin
    ericjasonp said:

    Yeah, that pay per click is a bunch of crap.  I wish I knew what was effective.

    I disagree. I generated quite a lot of business through AdWords for less than $100 per month. You need good ad copy, strategic keywords, and a good landing page. But if you put those components together, it works great.

    However, many lawyers just try the obvious keywords, pay too much, don't A/B test their ad copy, and send all the traffic to their homepage. That's not the way to do it. Visit the AdWords thread and I'd be happy to try to help.
  • Seth SchraierSeth Schraier New York, New York
    I think Adwords in large markets is a worse investment than Nolo.  At the end of the day, you're simply paying for a click, which obviously does not transfer to a new client in a majority of the cases. 


    With Nolo, the client has to fill out the entire contact form:  name, phone, e-mail, county, area of law, and specific legal issue.  I think this is a much better filter for leads than Adwords.


    By the way, I wanted to pass on the contact information for my account manager at Nolo if anyone is interested in at least reaching out and seeing what kind of plan he can do.  I am not receiving any sort of compensation, deduction, or anything at all for doing this from Nolo.  Simply put, I am so happy with the results I have personally seen from my campaign and through the work my account manager has done, that I think a lot of you reading this could benefit as I have. 


    Contact information: 

    Daniel Haight
    Nolo Account Manager


    As an aside, just to show the kind of success I have seen from Nolo....I originally signed my first lead subscription at the end of August 2011.  At that point, I had a total of 2 clients retained.  And now, 5 months later, I have a total of 38 open client files.  Many of these leads came directly from Nolo.  So if you're starting off, and need that good starting point for clients coming in, this is the way to go. 
  • Congratulations Seth!!


    That is terrific.  Word of advice, do not handle divorce cases without getting a retainer.
  • Seth Schraier said:

    As an aside, just to show the kind of success I have seen from Nolo....I originally signed my first lead subscription at the end of August 2011.  At that point, I had a total of 2 clients retained.  And now, 5 months later, I have a total of 38 open client files.  Many of these leads came directly from Nolo.  So if you're starting off, and need that good starting point for clients coming in, this is the way to go. 

    I just signed up, the downside to NOLO is they cap the # of lawyers that can advertise in a given area.  I'm in a city area with 6 million folks so you can bet that the 5 bankruptcy spots are filled.
  • In two weeks, I've gotten 2 clients for a net profit.  Not bad.
  • I just started on Friday, and got my first lead yesterday.  I already knew that many of the leads are dead ends, and this one was -- the guy already has SSDI and just had a question.  

    I paid $600, and at $18 per lead in the 3 counties I signed up for, that should last 3-4 months.  One client that signs on with a successful outcome will bring in $3000-6000, so the ROI could be decent, just have to wait and see.
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