Keywords: Professional Labor Markets; Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty; Design of Experiments.
The purpose of the article is to investigate how prospective clients assess the professional trustworthiness of experts in the pre-relational stage of their relationship, i.e., before the two parties establish a personal contact. To this aim, we carried out a full factorial experiment where sixty-four participants were asked first to picture themselves needing legal assistance, and then to rate their willingness to hire each of eight lawyers based on the information reported on the professionals' online personal profiles. Our analyses show that the level of professional trustworthiness attributed to lawyers by the experimental subjects mainly depends on three characteristics of the lawyers: the possession of specialized educational qualifications, the reputation held among colleagues, and the pursuit of philanthropic activities in leisure time. We conclude by highlighting some limitations of the study and suggesting possible venues for further research.