Why Every Lawyer Needs a Website

by Jeremy Francis on July 13, 2014

By: Keith Bennett

Why EVERY Lawyer Needs a Website – REALLY #!? – Can’t Believe I’m Writing This Article.

As Homer Simpson Says: 'D'oh'I surprised myself that I am writing this article today. I mean, as Homer Simpson says: “D’oh!”

Doesn’t EVERY Lawyer have a website by now? Just from the peer-pressure or the embarrassment of not having a site for opposing council to check out… Shocking.

American Bar Association: 4 out of 10 Lawyers DO NOT Have a Website!

While, I did not choose to spend the $350 bucks required of non-members to buy the latest 2014 Legal Technology Survey Report: Law Office Technology I was able to look through the American Bar Association’s 2012 version and was shocked to see that almost 40% of solo practitioners DO NOT HAVE A WEBSITE! With the crappy economy that continues to this day (2007-2014), I assume that statistic is still viable. Again, I am shocked…

Lawyers in their 60’s and 70’s Represent a Large Segment – But NOT Why You Might Think

Osborne 1 Portable ComputerI’ve been marketing lawyers since 1998 and I have witnessed that lawyers in their 60’s and 70’s, who graduated law school in the 1970’s and 1980’s, seem to be the late-comers to the web.

On the face of it, I suppose you’d think it makes sense that “old-school lawyers” might not embrace technology with the same enthusiasm of their younger peers. Not so fast. I am often blown away how up-to-date the law offices are of this older, seasoned demographic. These are the very lawyers who leased $12,000 pricey Lanier Word Processors in the late 1970’s and purchased Radio Shack TRS-80’s, IBM Personal PC’s, and Osborne I’s sporting Word-Star Software — coupled to $4,000 Daisy Wheel Printers in the early 1980’s while most ‘current day lawyers’ were riding their Big Wheel or trying to cop-a-feel of their lab partner in Junior High Chemistry.

Interesting TRIVIA: Are you aware that George R.R. Martin, (about the same age as our lawyers who started in the 1970’s) the author of the book behind the popular HBO Series “Game of Thrones” —to this day— works with WordStar on a DOS computer (not connected to the Internet)? Martin prefers an old DOS operating system and WordStar 4.0, which was the most popular word processing program of its day. *

George R.R. Martin, the author behind the 'Game of Thrones'

Older, Seasoned Lawyers likely have a Stream of Referrals, so…  Why Have a Website?

For older pre-Internet Lawyers, securing legal clients has always been referral-driven bolstered by print media (directories, magazines and Yellow Pages). Moreover, long-entrenched lawyers, with 1,000’s of clients and cases behind them are likely comfortable with their repeat and referral clients and case load. When the topic of a website arises they likely entertain these questions:

  • I’m doing fine, so why do I need a web presence?
  • How much more successful could I be if I publish a website?

EVERY Lawyer — Established or Just Starting Out — SHOULD HAVE a Web Presence

Get A Friggin' Website Already #!@Building a legal website, for me, is virtually a lost leader item, so I say this with the utmost love, compassion and sincerity: Get a FRIGGIN’ website #!@. You need a website so that potential clients can learn about you, get in touch with you, and find you. Potential clients who might consider hiring you for the “big bucks” you charge will want to learn more about you before they pick up a phone to actually call you. Let’s face reality here. My phone book goes from the driveway to the recycle bin. EVERYONE uses the Internet: preschoolers to grandma. While having a legal website is no guarantee of new clients, if you don’t have one or have a crappy-ass “Website-Tonight-fiasco,” people are probably going to contact the next lawyer on their list — instead of you.

“I’m a lawyer, can you make a credible case for having a FRIGGIN’ Website?”Yes… I can.

  • The Internet is how people find BASIC information these days. In fact, 90+ percent of adults use search engines to find information on the Web.
  • You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Even a starter website with just the basic details of your legal practice (practice area – what you do, attorney CV, and contact information) can keep your law firm in the selection process.
  • Your law school buddies and competitors are already online and visible to potential clients 24/7 while you are virtually invisible to modern-day digital-savvy consumers. While they have embraced a powerful and inexpensive marketing tool, you are stuck in obscurity. If your competitors websites are halfway decent, well organized and easy to navigate, they’ve established professional credibility while you remain invisible and irrelevant to a potential clients’ consideration.
  • The 24/7/365 availability of websites offer immediate gratification to our want-it-now culture seeking information and choices about available legal services. If you have a legal website, your law practice information can be available online and edited and updated anytime you desire: not so with many of the huge and impersonal attorney directory websites. Your story, practice area expertise, and attorney bio will allow prospective clients to familiarize themselves with you in an anonymous and noncommittal way –which is how virtually every new client prefers to select a lawyer. Prospective clients are NOT comfortable just cold-dialing a lawyer from a scrap of paper or business card. Familiarity breeds comfort.
  • Prospective clients will often feel anxious calling a lawyer. Their legal matter, as so many are, can be embarrassing to share and there is severe reluctance to make that first call. Some potential clients are apprehensive that calling you will resort in a hard sell; others will be reluctant because your skill set might not be right for their legal issue. Still others will be concerned that they will be wasting a lawyer’s valuable time.
  • Conversely, potential clients who visit a lawyer’s website will become knowledgeable and empowered. Fluent with the details about your law firm and your legal expertise, he or she can better evaluate if it seems that your law practice can help with a legal matter. This fore-knowledge paves the way for a phone call where apprehension and anxiety are significantly reduced or totally eliminated. In fact, many of my clients who have some videos on their sites have told me stories where they will answer the phone with an abrupt ‘not so friendly voice’ and they can literally sense that they’ve crushed the already bubbly, expectant demeanor of a new client that already considered themselves a friend because of watching and CONNECTING with the attorney through the video experience. Websites are also responsible for that first email or CHAT communication to the firm that wouldn’t happen without the site.
  • The Internet is THE attorney-marketing venue. Yellow Page listings have gone the way of the buggy whip. Printed ads shoot from the hip to an entire population; are expensive and ineffective. Websites can be accessed at any time from any computer in the world connecting the EXACT quarry to the prospective client-searcher: to the benefit of BOTH.
  • Even with personal referrals a lawyer website will close the sale. In many situations, individuals looking for a lawyer will collect a few referrals from friends or colleagues. In such cases, if they can review the qualifications one lawyer online but not the other lawyer, the law firm without a website is at a huge competitive-disadvantage. Similarly, when more than one person (husband and wife, or business partners) are lawyer shopping — often in family, estate planning, and business law matters, the decision to hire a lawyer might depend on the approval of multiple individuals. The ability for all deciding parties to review a lawyer’s website may be critical in coming to agreement on a particular law firm.
  • You need a legal website as the CORNERSTONE of your attorney marketing efforts. Yes, word-of-mouth referrals will continue to be valuable, but lawyers need to market themselves in today’s super-competitive business environment.

Whew! Lot of Bullet Points… — Time for a Lawyer Joke?

** Things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down by court reporters:
ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn’t it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn’t know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?

If You Don’t Have a Website for Your Law Practice, GET BUSY. — Then We Can Get Marketing!

Any lawyer who conducts their legal research on the Internet can appreciate that potential clients have come to rely upon that very same convenience. Yellow Pages are DEAD. Even referrals are “fleshed-out” online before reaching for a phone. There is NO mystery why seekers of legal services favor lawyers who have websites.

In addition to providing your law firm’s online presence, a well-designed website can be an important branding instrument for your law practice. Work with a professional website designer to get an attractive website that presents your law firm’s information in an organized and easy to comprehend format. There is NO need to spend ungodly monthly sums as many of the well-known firms will attempt to persuade you to part with. It you go that route, there will come a time when you will count the months down till you unburden yourself of that insidious ongoing cash drain. These companies are, for the most part, hawking overpriced snake oil solutions by making promises of fluffy rainbows and magic unicorns with no contractual recourse to remedy lackluster results. You can better market yourself on your own or find a smaller, focused expert for a fraction of the marketing investment.

Your Lawyer Website is the CORNERSTONE of your Web Presence — but not the Holy Grail…

Once you pull the trigger on a website, you need to remember that a website alone is not sufficient to getting your web presence “out there” in a significant way. Blogging, Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social networking sites will work together at bringing increasing numbers of visitors to your new website and to you. Don’t freak out! You don’t have to use nor become expert at all of those social media channels I listed.

Q: How do you eat an elephant? A: One bite at a time.

In conclusion – you simply need to take a few baby steps in order to leverage the web and enhance your digital reputation to where you will stand back and wonder: WHY didn’t I start this 5 years ago !#?

Need a new website or a website makeover? – While our business is now mostly “web leveraging and SEO” we build new legal sites and do “makeovers” weekly. Here is a link to some recent “from scratch” web designs released in the past year or so. And yes, if referred by an attorney we will craft a site for their family members or clients; so there are some non-legal screenshots included. Give me a call at (888) 900-9078 and let’s talk about your web goals.

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* SOURCE: George R.R. Martin

** from a book called Disorder in the Courts Disorder In The Court!

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