Law Firm Websites: The Next Generation

By Robert Algeri, Founder
July 2010
Published in: Strategies - The Journal of Legal Marketing

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Powerful forces — both business and cultural — are causing law firms to rethink their approach to business development. One result is that law firm websites, which have evolved very little over the past decade, are about to undergo a little revolution.

What will this revolution bring?

  • This article was published in the LMA’s
    Strategies magazine in July 2010.

I predict that attorney bios will expand significantly. The one-size-fits-all, single-page attorney bio will be relegated to the dustbin of legal marketing history. And it will be replaced by something much more robust: the attorney microsite.

So what exactly is an attorney microsite?

Attorney microsites are multipage attorney bio sections — essentially, small, customizable websites for each attorney that fit within the firm’s larger website. An attorney’s microsite could be configured to have any number of pages and any type information that will help that particular attorney develop new business. For instance, let’s take a look at how three different attorneys might configure their microsites:

Attorney 1 - The Thought Leader. This attorney has a brilliant legal mind and builds his reputation by writing and speaking. As a result, his microsite would showcase his intellectual talents by including pages for Publications, Presentations, Blog, Case Studies – in addition to basic biographical information.
Attorney 2 - The Charismatic Rainmaker. This attorney is both smart and charming, and the media loves her. In addition to basic bio information, her microsite includes a page of video clips of her television appearances and photos of her shaking hands with politicians and business moguls. She might also want to showcase her social media activity by including feeds from LinkedIn and Twitter.
Attorney 3 - The Senior Partner. This seasoned attorney doesn’t need to spend much time marketing. As a result, his microsite consists of only a single page of biographical information.

Since no two attorneys market themselves the same way, the benefits of an attorney microsite appear to be self-evident (when compared to the traditional one-page attorney bio). However, even if you accept that microsites offer a better marketing platform, you may be asking yourself: Who is going to see these things? Is it really worth the money and effort to create these microsites?

The answer is yes. And the facts are compelling.

Who visits law firm websites?

A 2009 survey of general counsel at major companies (performed by the Wicker Park Group) showed that law firm websites played a surprisingly large role in the process of selecting outside counsel. The survey’s revelations include:

  • 100% of the respondents said that they visited a law firm’s website when evaluating and purchasing legal services.
  • 90% said that the attorney bios section is the most important section of a law firm’s website – and the one they visit most.

These data basically confirm what law firm marketers have known for years. My marketing firm recently ran the traffic data for several law firm websites that we manage. We found that 56% of page views occur in the attorney bios section. Some major law firms that we have spoken to report that over 70% of their traffic occurs in the attorneys section. All of these data beckon the question: If attorney bios are the most important and most visited places on law firm websites, why are so many firms neglecting them?

The traffic data alone are enough to suggest that attorney bios will expand. However, a variety of converging business trends could make the adoption of microsites inevitable.

A shifting landscape

Early law firm websites were essentially, online versions of a firm’s brochure. Since then, they have evolved; however, the basic goal has remained constant: to help brand the firm.

Now things are changing. Firms expect their websites to do more, and this includes helping individual attorneys build their practices. This new thinking is being ushered in by a variety of powerful forces including:

  • Tech-savvy lawyers, and clients – The newest crop of law firm partners (and their clients!) have been on the internet for their entire professional lives. They are demanding a more robust online marketing platform.
  • The economy – As is the nature of economic downturns, The Great Recession has forced law firms to reconsider how they do business — and find a better way. As a result, more firms are embracing web marketing techniques.
  • A wider (and more competitive) market – For a variety of cultural and technological reasons, clients are now increasingly willing to engage attorneys outside their immediate geographic area. As more business is pitched remotely — to prospects whom the attorney may have never met in person — lawyers will need better ways to market themselves online.
  • The emergence of social media – Marketing technologies like blogging, LinkedIn and Twitter are emerging as effective marketing tools for attorneys. Their use will only increase.
A new opportunity

We’re entering an era in which websites, blogging and social media will be central to the business development efforts of nearly all attorneys. This is a seismic shift. And it presents an enormous growth opportunity for those firms that embrace the new marketing landscape — and master it.

To see an example of a website that uses attorney microsites, click here, or call us at 212-699-3684.  We’d be happy to walk you through a demo.