One of the most difficult parts of starting or growing a law firm is bringing in new leads. There are about 60,000 personal injury law firms in the United States, so how do you get the attention of potential clients? Lead generation is a great way to bring in new cases, but it can be difficult to tell how much you should be investing in this process.

Below, we’ll break down the lead generation process, the factors that can impact your cost per case, and whether you should buy leads or generate your own. We’ll also discuss how much you should be paying for leads, no matter how you’re getting them and how to qualify your leads.

The Lead Generation Process

There are two basic types of lead generation: active and passive. Passive lead generation focuses on getting your brand in front of potential future clients so that, when they eventually need your services, your name is already on their mind. This can include improving your SEO, requesting reviews from previous clients, and running billboards and other ads.

Active lead generation aims to get you a specific number of leads within a set time period. Most of the time, this will involve purchasing leads from a lead generation company. These companies gather contact information from potential clients seeking legal services and pass it along to paying clients.

Factors That Impact Lead Price

Whether or not you buy your leads, you’ll have costs associated with generating leads. Even if you go the passive generation route, you’ll still have to pay for advertising, digital marketing services, and so on. There are several factors that can impact how much each lead costs you.

Geographic Location

No matter how you’re getting your leads, where you live will impact your lead cost. If you’re focusing on passive leads, your advertising costs will be lower in more rural areas. Likewise, because competition is higher in cities, purchasing leads in places like Chicago, New York, and so on will be higher than in lower-population areas.

Advertising Method

When you’re working on passive lead generation, the advertising method you use will also impact your cost per lead. TV advertisements will cost more than radio ads, which will cost more than social media ads, and so on. You’ll need to consider what sort of return on investment you’re getting from each advertising method when developing your advertising strategy.


How much competition you have in your market can impact your cost per lead. Larger markets, such as Chicago, New York, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles, will be more expensive to acquire leads in. More rural areas may be more affordable, even if leads are a little less plentiful.


If you’re buying your leads from a company, you’ll need to consider whether you want to pay for exclusivity. Some companies will sell the same list of leads to multiple clients, meaning the people you’re contacting may have already been contacted by one of your competitors. You can get a list of leads that will be sold exclusively to you, but this will cost more money.

Lead Quality

When you buy leads, you can choose between “qualified” and “unqualified” leads. Qualified leads have been checked to make sure that the contact information doesn’t belong to a bot and that the person on the other end really is interested in your services. That being said, qualified leads will, of course, cost more per lead than unqualified leads.

Buying vs. Generating Leads

As your firm grows, you’ll need to continually reevaluate whether you want to buy leads or generate your own. Of course, buying leads saves a lot of time and effort and can provide you with a ready-made list of potential clients already interested in your services.

But long-term, buying leads isn’t a sustainable way to grow your business. For one thing, you’re paying an inflexible price per lead – you put X dollars in and get one lead out. Passive lead generation strategies such as advertising and improving your SEO can help you lower your cost per lead over time.

What Is a “Good” Cost Per Lead?

As you might imagine, there’s no one ideal cost per lead for lawyers. Your ideal cost will depend on a huge range of factors, including all the ones we’ve discussed above. That being said, there are a few rules of thumb that you can follow when determining if you’re paying a fair price for your leads.

In general, you should aim to keep your cost per lead below 15 percent of the amount you expect to settle each case for. So if you’re expecting to settle a client’s case for $20,000, you should aim to keep the cost of that lead under $3,000. 

How to Qualify Leads

Whether you’re buying unqualified leads or generating your own, qualifying them can help you make sure they’re a good fit for your firm. After all, you don’t want to waste time on cases that aren’t viable or that don’t fall into an area you work in. There are several factors you’ll want to consider when qualifying your leads.

Severity of the Injuries

One of the first things you’ll want to determine is how serious a lead’s injuries are. It will come as no surprise that, most of the time, bumps, bruises, and whiplash injuries will not make for viable cases. The more serious the injury, the more likely it is that you’ll have a viable, profitable case on your hands.

Amount of Insurance Coverage

It’s also important to determine early how much insurance coverage a lead has. People with lower coverage may not have enough to cover the costs of their case. These leads won’t be profitable and may not be worth the time.


Of course, you’ll also need to make sure that your leads are located in a jurisdiction where you can practice law. Depending on how you’re gathering your leads, you may get leads from states you don’t practice in. You’ll need to weed out these nonviable leads during the qualification process.

Statute of Limitations

You’ll also want to check and make sure that the statute of limitations hasn’t expired on any of the leads you get. Unless some new information has recently come to light, there’s no sense in wasting time on a case that can never be viable. 

Start Improving Your Lead Generation

Lead generation, whether passive or active, is a great way to grow your law firm. Buying leads can be a good quick solution, but long-term, passive lead generation methods like SEO and advertising can help you lower your cost per case. Although there’s no one magic number that’s a good personal injury lead cost, it’s best to aim for about 15 percent of your average settlement amount.

If you’d like help improving your SEO and reducing your cost per case, LawRank is here to help. We provide SEO for lawyers, PPC, and web design services for law firms. Contact us today and start getting transparency, integrity, and results from your digital marketing firm.