Be sure to read last month’s Eye on Ethics column
on lawyer websites and the Rules of Professional
about what will happen to your house, your car, the educational
accounts for your children, and your business in the context of a
bankruptcy and business reorganization. I’ve represented clients
in bankruptcy and business reorganization for more than 20
years and can help you with these and other matters specific
to your situation.” Then, make sure these messages are clearly
communicated in your website. (Note: Most clients won’t “get”
how you serve them simply by presenting a list of practice
• Tie professional experience to client benefits. For example:
“I’ve helped more than two dozen companies go public with
registration and underwriting matters, so if your company is
considering a public offering, please call me and we can discuss
• De-emphasize law school education and academic achievements. Though education and experience are undoubtedly
important, they shouldn’t overshadow the primary messages
about how the attorney serves clients.
• Minimize the pedestal approach. The “pedestal approach”
may be thought of as positioning an attorney as a great authority on law by focusing on huge cases and large dollar amounts.
Though prospective clients may be impressed, if too much focus
is placed on these areas and not enough in the service areas,
prospective clients might feel that their legal needs are unimportant in comparison to the other really significant matters that
the attorney is likely handling, and may be less inclined to call
• Develop each web page as a magazine ad. Effective magazine
ads combine limited text with compelling images, colors and
fonts. Viewers “get” the message in seconds; they aren’t forced
to read hundreds of words. Less can be more—much more.
• Humanize firm attorneys. Chances are good that the attorneys at your firm are also real people. As a result, each attorney
profile should have a unique message directed to prospective
clients of that attorney. An ice-breaker also can be used to facilitate communication: “I enjoy crafting legal solutions that fit
perfectly with the goals of business clients, and I usually like to
be at the office by 7 a.m. If you’re an early riser and would like
to talk about your company’s legal matters before starting a
busy day, give me a call and we can talk over a cup of coffee.”
• Avoid overused legal images, such as the scales of justice,
marble columns, law books and courtrooms. These symbols
not only will get your firm’s website lumped in with the 90 percent or so of other law firm websites, they also may turn off
prospective clients. (Images of courtrooms and jail cells likely
won’t resonate well with those charged with a criminal offense,
who usually prefer to avoid both of the foregoing.)
The Third “R”—Revenue
The third “R” of law firm websites is Revenue, which results when
website visitors become firm clients. Generating new clients through
website visitors is known as conversion, which happens when a website visitor calls the firm or fills out a contact form.
This stage assumes that you’ve done everything right to ensure
that your firm’s site resonates with prospective clients. How do you
get them to take this last step—to actually contact you?
Creating a Warm Welcome and Effective Call to Action
Imagine going into a large room full of people whom you don’t
know. Unlike past situations, however, these people are different.
They each come over and introduce themselves to you, they ask you
questions, and they seem to be genuinely interested in you. Soon,
not only do you feel at ease, but you also realize that you actually
like these people.
Your firm’s website should similarly embrace and feel welcoming to visitors and prospective clients. It should break down inherent communication barriers by having an active call to action on all
pages. Practice area pages, for example, should include a personalized invitation from the practice group leader to call: “Hi, I’m Joe
Smith, the firm’s business practice group leader. If you have a business legal problem, please call me today so that we may help you.”
Whom Should I Call?
It’s important to realize that clients want to easily determine whom
to call from a firm’s website, especially in situations in which the
firm is large and for matters that may be embarrassing. Help clients
by clearly providing the contact information for their matter.
Keep Contact Forms Simple
No one likes to fill out long contact forms with many required
information fields. Longer forms are less likely to be completed.
Keep the forms short: name, small area for type of legal matter,
phone number and best time to call.
By taking the client-centered website approach, your firm is likely to get more business from prospective clients seeking the services offered by your firm. AZ AT
1. Google commands an overwhelming portion of the search engine
market, as it powers approximately 70 percent of all searches performed.
Following Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft Bing power about 15. 2 percent
and 10. 6 percent of searches, respectively. Google’s Share of U.S. Internet
Searches Fell Slightly—Hitwise, Jan. 13, 2011,
Because of the dominating position that Google holds compared to other
search engines, it’s important for law firms to focus on achieving high
rankings on Google more than achieving high rankings on other search
engines. This article therefore focuses on Google; however, the same
principles discussed here generally apply to Yahoo!, Bing and other search
2. Iprospect Blended Search Results Study, April 2008,
3. It’s believed that Google uses 200 factors in its ranking algorithms. The
specific factors included, and the weighting distributed on each of the
factors, are both changed frequently.
4. There is no “one” ranking for a law firm, as different terms in a search
query result in different rankings.
5. Using unethical or “black hat” techniques can result in a firm’s website
being banned from Google, which means that it won’t be shown at all in
the search results. And such practices also may violate an Ethical Rule.