By Matthew Butterick
Matthew Butterick of Butterick Law Corporation in Los Angeles can be contacted at
Attorneys know the importance of argument. And your law firm’s Web site is the opening statement about why a client should hire you. Does your Web site answer these two basic questions?
1. Can you do the job? (Do you have the skills to solve their legal problems?)
2. Will you do the job? (Can clients trust you to deliver?)
Surprisingly, many law firm Web sites do not. Here are ten common ways a firm’s site can go wrong:
1. Failure to update. Outdated information looks sloppy. It also potentially violates your local ethics rules, which usually prohibit deceptive statements in public communications. Keep your Web site current. If you can’t, reduce the content to a manageable level.
2. Ignoring the client’s perspective. Clients usually call attorneys after a problem has arisen (e.g., an arrest, an injury, marital infidelity). Look at your Web site not with the unconditional love that your mother would, but with the anxiety and fear that clients often have. If you were in their shoes, what would put you at ease?
3. Pictures of real estate. Epidemic numbers of law firms lead off their Web sites with photos of office buildings or conference rooms. What is this supposed to communicate to clients? “We need your business because our rent is so expensive”? You can do better.
4. Boilerplate text. Ready-made Web site designs for attorneys are popular. If you use one, replace the boilerplate text with your own material. Platitudes like “We’re uniquely focused on client service” and “our law firm is unlike any other” only make you seem generic and insincere.
5. Disregarding attention span. You’re a busy person, right? So are your Web site visitors. So get to the point. Don’t load your Web site with useless extras (e.g. introductory Flash animations). And keep your text blocks short. Remember that the next attorney on a client’s list is just one click away.
6. Burying your contact information. Don’t spoil the moment when a client is ready to call you. Make it easy by putting your contact information in a consistent location on every page.
7. Ignoring marketing. A Web site isn’t worth much if nobody visits. Don’t spend all your time and money on the Web site and nothing on Web site marketing. Get your URL out into the world.
8. Relying on SEO shortcuts. Search engine optimization (SEO) consultants promise to move your Web site into the top tier of search results. Some SEO consultants offer solid, practical advice. But search engines are always adjusting their ranking systems to defeat abusive or shady SEO techniques. If an SEO offer sounds too good to be true, it is.
9. Blogging. Like puppies, blogs are easy to acquire but expensive to maintain. Most attorneys would be wise to avoid blogging and invest that time in other marketing activities. The one exception is if you have a practice interest that’s very narrow or unusual; in that case, your blog might plausibly fill a gap. But the world doesn’t need another DUI-defense blog.
10. No Web site at all. These days, having no Web site is like having no voice mail. It’s a basic client expectation. Even one page with your name, address, and phone number is better than nothing. Trust me—this Internet thing is poised to really take off in the next few years.
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