March 21, 2021 Practice Points

Going Solo: How Meaningful Is Your Internet Presence?

Observations from an experienced environmental lawyer who recently left a large firm to start her own.

By Karen Aldridge Crawford

After over 30 years practicing environmental law at a large firm, I recently started my own. At a large firm, you have “people” who help you market, build websites, get published (maybe), and mentors who offer opportunities (hopefully). While I liked being involved in marketing and helped to write for the website, many lawyers in such firms do not even have to think about it much, and it still gets “done.” In a small or solo firm, it is YOU who are filling those roles until/unless you hire help. It is difficult to prioritize your time and financial resources to get the “most bang for your buck.” Very recent feedback on one of my early investment/marketing decisions prompted me to share.

Of all the goods and services I have purchased for my new firm, the largest chunk of money I have spent, so far, is for building a website. I thought about it, wondering how imperative and time-sensitive that expenditure might prove to be. My logo and announcement were put together first, so that I could get word out to clients with contact information to avoid a gap in accessibility/communication. That proved to be very important as it prompted folks to call me not only to “check in” but with new work or work they had “been meaning to call” about. In addition to client notices, I posted word of my move on various social media websites, updated my profiles, and sent announcements to groups I work with, but it took a month to get the website up and running for public access on the internet. Existing clients know where I am, but what about potential new ones?

Three days following the site launch, I received a call about a new matter. The referral came from a friend in the state who was a family member of the out-of-state lawyer who needed local counsel. Friendships are important, as are your reputation in the community and profession, and there were a myriad of lucky friend and family interfaces that resulted in the referral. Only a few minutes into the telephone conversation, though, the lawyer seeking assistance indicated that she almost did not call me because I did not have a website. I quickly indicated the site went live last weekend, she found it during our call, and I do now have a chance of helping on this new matter.

Final answer? You MUST have an internet presence, which is not only social media, but an easily located website that assists you in marketing your services. It is very meaningful. I think mine is already worth the money!!

Karen Aldridge Crawford is owner of KLAC Law LLC in Columbia, South Carolina.

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