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I've been tasked with redesigning a search interface to find a lawyer.

The interface has a keyword field and a few scopes to narrow the search.

The use cases appear to be:

Find a specific lawyer "I know the name, or approximate name" or find any lawyer with a particular attribute or set of attributes (An example might be "Corporate lawyer in London"

To add: Having done a bunch of research on law firms, they ALL have an alphabet function. The alphabet function is just a list ABCDE. Like the one attached.

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In most of my analysis, the alphabet has a poor dependency with the other search parameters and will usually override them, with the implied use case being "find me all lawyers beginning with A" which seems non sensical. Moreover, the alphabet sounds more like an post-search behaviour at best; and completely redundant at worst.

My question Has anyone got any good examples of an employee search that i can advise the client on? I sense it is something simple: good look-ahead single search box and then filters and sorts on the results screen including the alphabet (if this function is needed at all)

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I don’t have an employee search to draw examples from for you 

However you can argue that a search like this operates quite closely in the same manner a “find contact” search works.

Your look-ahead single search box with filters is probably the better approach as users can then amend and modify their search based on what they know or they are looking for. 

A few suggestions:

  1. I would keep filters visible. Things like Practice, Office location, Education etc. keep them available and visible to the user.

  2. Allow all results to come up if a filter is selected but the query is empty. For example show all lawyers from a specific school if it’s selected even if they typed nothing.

  3. Consider autocomplete andsuggestions as the user types. This aids users with recall if they see similar values as the one they are trying to type.

  4. If it’s an industry norm, keep the alphabetical index available. Some users might simply prefer to navigate the long way around to find a lawyer. You can make a case though that this is secondary and more of a “last-resort” if anything. You do need a way to display information if search is not working for your users after all.

Some examples of similar searches and how they behave:

Some research to back your assumptions:

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