Not many lawyers today care to recall the time when lawyers and doctors were not allowed to advertise.
All that changed in 1977, via the famous case in the United States Supreme Court, Bates vs State Bar of Arizona, when the Supreme Court handed down a verdict stating that bans on lawyer advertising were not permissible.
In this landmark judgment, the Court held that advertising by lawyers was commercial speech, and as such, it was protected by the First and Fourteenth Constitutional Amendments.
Today, in keeping with modern trends, lawyers and law firms leverage the power of the internet to convey marketing messages to potential and existing clients, provide legal information and opinions via blogs and remain in step with emerging technologies.
The American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Resource Center in its annual Legal Technology Survey Report 2019 submitted some interesting findings. The survey studied the use of technology in the legal profession.
- 86% of those studied reported that their firm had a website
- Just over half of the independent lawyers surveyed reported having a website, while 90% of firms (of various sizes) reported that they did have a website
- 80% say they have a social media presence
- More than 59% said that they conduct the marketing themselves
- 25% reported that their websites are managed by outside consultants
- 40% of firms reported that one or two lawyers in their firms are responsible for content creation on their websites
- Only 38% surveyed said they had access to analytics/reports about the effectiveness of their websites
Looking at these numbers, it becomes evident that though many law firms do have websites, the power and potential of websites as a marketing tool are not being fully utilized.
Benefits Of Having A Website For Your Law Firm
With more than 1.3 million attorneys in the US as of 2018, jostling for space is a given, and grabbing attention can be a huge challenge.
The main premise that underlies law firm websites is that it is people who require some sort of legal advice, assistance or advocacy who look for these websites. They are not here to purchase something or to be entertained.
Your online presence is an important feature that helps clients to know about you. Even if clients do know about you, they may not know enough details that would convince them to select your firm among the thousands of others.
Though law firms can and do advertise on TV and in the print media, they may not be able to recall your address or telephone number so that they can contact you. Being constantly visible on a website gives you that advantage, 24x7x365.
2. Trust and Credibility
Websites establish the trustworthiness and credibility of a firm in the minds of people. It is the new age resume or CV where you can provide verifiable information about your credentials, qualifications, experience, track record, legal team, and more.
In a study conducted by the National Law Review, more than 70% of people visited a law firm website to take some sort of legal action. With a well-designed, easy to navigate, and informative website, you can establish the credibility and reliability of your firm with the help of facts and figures.
3. Areas of Practice
Lawyers and law firms may specialize in certain areas of law such as family law, criminal law, personal injury, patent law, etc. Your website gives potential clients the right information about what areas of practice you specialize in and what is outside of your ambit.
Website Design Essentials For Your Law Firm
Design Elements: It should look and feel professional and credible. The content, colors, fonts, layout, etc. should project a more serious and down-to-earth image rather than a gimmicky, flashy, and splashy one.
Easy to Navigate: Websites that are too complicated, where important features such as the About Us, Our Team, Call to Action, Contact Us, What We Do, etc are difficult to find or hidden in snazzy design elements can frustrate clients and drive them away.
Responsive: Mobile phones account for nearly 50% of web traffic across the globe and this figure has been more or less consistent since 2017. Your website should be responsive to different screen sizes that clients may access it from such as desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobiles. It’s important to know that people may browse on different devices at different locations and times.
Photos and graphics: Visuals play a huge role in personalization. Include the latest photos of your team in the office, and at different locations such as the court so that you build an instant connection with the viewer. Testimonials from satisfied clients should also contain photos to boost credibility.
Blog content: Law firm websites must include a regularly-updated blog with fresh, original, relevant, and trustworthy blog content. They’re not just useful for providing information, but they also help to build links, SEO optimization, and loyalty.
Branding: Ensure that your logo, areas of practice, photos of the team, and the firm’s name are prominent on your home page, deployed with certain signature colors and fonts.
Content: Tell visitors about yourself and your team, your history, some of your landmark cases and link them wherever appropriate to social media, print, and other news media, etc. Get access to well-written content that uses simple, clear language and steers clear of legal jargon. Let clients know what distinguishes you from the thousands of others.
Display your achievements, awards, peer recognition, membership of prestigious bodies, and associations prominently on the site. Allow visitors to know more about individual attorneys in your firm, their biographies, areas of practice, achievements, etc.
Calls To Action: Don’t restrict your CTA to the home page. You can have these buttons displayed prominently on several other pages for people to get in touch with you easily.
Using Social Media: Though state bar rules ban solicitation, you can work within these parameters to widen your target audience pool. Social media helps you to create and grow new relationships, it is also affordable, quicker, and more effective.
If you combine your social media strategy with good quality visual content such as videos, explainers, etc. this can yield rich dividends.
Law firm website design also plays a major role in the effectiveness of your marketing strategy.
Websites help to educate/inform visitors and clients, and also give you information about the kinds of potential visitors you’re getting.
It’s a fact that law firms that are highly ranked on search engines are considered to be the best in the area of practice/location. While a general marketing message conveyed via the website is a great idea, it’s also important to segment the market correctly.
Identifying specific target audiences and offering content that’s tailored to their requirements can go a long way in getting you the right clients.