Law firm clients are more at ease sticking to emails and online chat when communicating with their lawyers, a new survey has found. 

Research by case generation company mmadigital found that 83% of current and future consumers prefer to deal with law firms online, believing this to be the best way of keeping costs down. 

Just over half of those surveyed (55%) still want face-to-face contact with lawyers, with just 29% wanting to communicate over the telephone.  

More people would now start their search for legal services on Google over anywhere else, but 58% would also turn to online reviews before making their decision and 46% would use social media. 

Consumers were open to the idea of the use of robots and AI in the legal sector, with 39% claiming this would be a good idea as law firms would be available around the clock. 

Dez Derry, chief executive at mmadigital said: ‘It’s clear from our research that consumers feel far more comfortable sitting behind a keyboard or a handset to make at least their first contact with a law firm. 

‘It’s understandable that consumers who are approaching a law firm for the first time are a little daunted or worried about costs; therefore, opt for forms of communication that they feel more comfortable with.’ 

The research was conducted by independent agency Sapio and polled the views of more than 500 respondents who have used or have considered using legal services. 

Meanwhile, separate research has revealed the importance of clear price information to consumers trying to find the right service provider. 

A survey of more than 1,000 people by IRN Research found a clear majority still find it difficult to differentiate between firms, but three-quarters said they would be influenced in their choice by prices included on firm websites.  

Few consumers knew about their rights in relation to using legal services: just 22% of existing legal services users knew their provider was regulated, and even less knew about the Legal Ombudsman.