Are Attorney Pay Per Lead Services Worth It?

Finding leads is a challenge, but you can make it easier. Pay per lead advertising is one way you can increase the number of quality leads appearing in your inbox.

At least 53% of marketers spend half or more of their budget on lead generation. Pay per lead (or PPL) may be a better way to get more out of your ad spend.

Pay per lead snips out financial guesswork and helps you find quality clients. With so many platforms available for your firm, your concern is finding the best PPL for law firms.

You have enough on your plate as it is. We’re going to narrow down the best platforms for PPL—as well as possible drawbacks—so you don’t have to.

Pay Per Lead (PPL) vs. Pay Per Click (PPC)

Pay per lead handles the tricky task of getting qualified leads with platforms. Pay per click (or PPC) is a similar model with a few differences.

PPC charges you every time someone clicks your ad. The price you pay typically varies depending on the type of platform, the audience you’re targeting, your total budget, the quality of your creative assets (e.g. copy and design), and the level of competition you’re bidding against for ad space.

With a pay per lead model, you only pay for the leads you get from the ads or from a lead generation service.

PPC can be more complicated to analyze and optimize due to the number of metrics you can track. A lot of folks are myopic and obsess over the cost per click (CPC) or cost per lead (CPL) when the metric you often want to measure against is the cost to acquire a case (commonly called CAC or cost to acquire a customer in the general marketing world).

If you solely focus on CPC or CPL, there’s no guarantee that you’ll increase your revenue. CPC and CPL are variables that impact CAC and, ultimately, revenue and profit. Here’s an analogy: think of CPC and CPL like yards gained, CAC like touchdowns, revenue like games won, and profit like your overall win/loss record.

Both PPC and PPL can work for law firms. When they don’t perform as well as you’d like, it’s usually not the fault of the platform you’re using or tactics you’re employing, but because you have a bad strategy.

The Different Platforms for Attorney Pay Per Lead

There are several platforms that offer pay per lead advertising spots for attorneys.

The most common platforms for attorney pay per lead ads are legal directories. You can also find them in general online directories and in Google search results.

We’ll take a look at a few of the most common services below to get you started.

Google Local Service Ads

Google local service ads are fantastic for law firms who only want clients from their local area. They’re not useful for law firms that want clients from around the country.

These ads appear when a potential client in your service area uses Google to make a bottom of funnel search. For example, if someone searches for car accident lawyer pensacola, your ad could show up.

There are two major things that make Google LSAs attractive for lawyers.

First, you only pay if a qualified lead contacts you through the ad. There are options for disputing erroneous or irrelevant leads.

Second, these types of ads appear above both PPC ads and organic search results. Your ad can be the first thing to grab someone’s attention after they search for a valuable keyword.


Thumbtack is an online directory that focuses on local services of all types. Once you create a free profile, the site begins matching you with potential clients.

Lawyers can set targeting preferences to get in front of ideal clients. You can set things like job types (think case types) and location. you can also set how much you’re willing to pay for leads.

When potential clients see your listing, they can reach out to you for a consultation.

People searching on Thumbtack are in market to hire a lawyer, which is a good thing. But there is a catch with this platform.

To get the leads, you have to buy credits from the platform in advance. For every job, Thumbtack determines its value in credits. You’ll only get the leads if you have enough credits in your account.

Martindale-Nolo’s Pay Per Lead Subscription

Martindale-Nolo owns several legal directories and law-related websites. With their pay per lead subscription, you get access to leads from their entire network.

When a potential client fills out a form on a site in their network, Martindale-Nolo gets a lead. They then forward these leads to subscribing law firms.

Martindale-Nolo does not share the cost of its subscription program. They claim to provide a steady stream of leads to your law firm’s inbox or CRM.

This may not be the best pay per lead service for lawyers, though. Several former clients have left negative reviews across the internet citing low-quality leads. This is a recurring theme from attorneys on sites like Yelp, BBB, and TrustPilot.


This service works like a mixture between Thumbtack and Martindale-Nolo’s PPL programs.

People who visit LegalMatch get paired with a qualified attorney. Then LegalMatch forward these leads to lawyers in their system. Lawyers who subscribe to this service have the opportunity to review all the leads they get.

Unlike the other services, LegalMatch lawyers have no cap on the number of leads they can get per month. Instead, they charge a flat rate starting at $455 per month.

The Positives of Attorney Pay Per Lead

Pay per lead has quite a few benefits over PPC ads. The ones you should look for are below.

Pay for Qualified Leads Over Clicks

Pay per lead ensures you’ll get more qualified leads than random clicks. This means a higher chance of people calling and following up with you.

Thousands of people clicking your ads doesn’t matter if none of them convert into customers. PPC runs the risk of wasting your money on costly bids that result in few to no clients. If you’re weary of getting calls that never go anywhere, consider making the switch to PPL.

Improve Lead Quality

Thousands of people may click your ad, but only a few will become a client. PPL improves lead quality by going straight for people likely to convert. These ads appear in places that people go to when they are in need of legal services.

For example, PPL ads show up in legal directories and in bottom of funnel Google searches.

Pay per lead services narrow down people who have expressed a need for your services.

Snip Out the Budgeting Guesswork

The pay per lead model takes out the financial guesswork of online advertising. Pay per lead has more predictable budgets than pay per click.

PPC will have you pay for every click whether or not you receive a paying client. With PPL, You’ll enjoy a set rate for each client and a more predictable budget.

Even better, some platforms let you vet the leads to increase the chances they convert. Even if you pay for more leads than you expected, you’ll likely have enough clients to offset the cost.

We recommend pay per lead for law firms who are:

  • Dissatisfied with PPC results
  • Strict with their marketing budget

The Negatives of Attorney Pay Per Lead

No marketing tactic is perfect for everyone. Pay per lead still has a few features that may be incompatible with your business goals.

Platforms that Focus on Quantity Over Quality

In a vacuum, PPL can lead to higher-quality leads. That’s because the people who answer ads or fill out forms are in genuine need of help.

But some platforms and providers may not do a great job at vetting leads before sending them to you. They may focus on sending you a ton of leads without taking the details into account.

Some of these lead generators may get so many leads that they cannot sort them effectively. This can result in things like a PI lawyer getting estate planning leads.

The best services find ways to fix mistakes. They let lawyers dispute erroneous leads rather than eat the cots.

Reading reviews of vendors or speaking with peers who have used them can help you avoid this problem.

Ethical Restrictions Make PPL Difficult at Times

Ethical restrictions are one of the biggest challenges in the legal field by far. Violating bar standards can happen with marketers who don’t understand the industry. It can also happen with a platform that isn’t built for law firms.

You could run into confidentiality issues when posting ads using a customer testimonial. You also risk hiring a vendor who may not understand attorney ethics rules. For example, an advertiser who makes rule-breaking claims about your law firm.

Pay Per Lead is Temporary, While SEO is Long-Term

Pay per lead generates revenue when you’re spending money, but that well dries up once you stop. Search engine optimization continues bringing in traffic long after the initial investment.

With SEO, you can create content that resonates with people who need your help.

You can run a PPL ad for a few weeks and get a few legal leads in that time. Meanwhile, SEO for lawyers works as long as you have your site up and running. This means you could have years of leads directed your way.

Is Attorney Pay Per Lead Worth It?

Attorney pay per lead is worth it if you want to attract high-quality leads. It could also help you keep a close eye on your marketing budget.

Pay per lead may not be for you if you worry about vendors prioritizing quantity over quality. While PPL can bring high-quality leads, it doesn’t always. Some platforms may have inadequate systems for getting the best leads to your inbox.

You may also find pay per lead less appealing if you want to increase revenue without a limit. SEO has the benefit of bringing in revenue well after you’ve put in time and money.

We know your firm has unique challenges. Contact us today to set up a 30-minute call and learn how you can start bringing in more cases.

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