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Some thoughts on an award-winning law firm website

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Congrats to our client Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer! They were recently named as having “The Best 2013 Law Firm Website” by the Lawyerist, a blog about law practice.

We’re not pursuers of website design awards, and therefore we were surprised to learn that the website had been nominated for the Lawyerist contest. In fact, neither we nor our client knew that the website had been selected as a contender until someone sent me a note long after the voting had commenced. It appears that each year, the Lawyerist asks its readers to nominate the law firm website that they think is “best.” The criteria for what qualifies as “best” are completely subjective, but it seems that the choices that the firm made regarding its website design, structure and functionality jived with the Lawyerist community.

The article by Sam Glover, editor of the Lawyerist, that announced the contest winner offered his thoughts on why the website won.

  • “Big, clear images that humanize the attorneys.”
    Because the lawyers at Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer march to a different beat – we designed their website to reflect the firm’s unique culture. Working closely with the firm’s marketing director, Brian Feick, we determined what types of photos could be used to best capture the unique personality of the firm. We collaborated with a Calgary-based photography team, which shot a series of large, striking images that captured their culture.

    In addition to the homepage and other marquee images that appear, the BD&P website includes amazing attorney profile photos. Each attorney is posed to exude confidence. These guys and gals look great.

    (Kudos to Roth & Ramburg and Keli Pollock for their great photo work.)

  • “Easy site-search, including a search box that’s 'front-and-center' on the homepage of the website.”
    In building the website, we included a handy bit of functionality called “Facebook-style Predictive Search.” As you start typing into the search box, you are instantly offered names of Attorneys and Practice Areas that match the letters you’ve typed. The number of options quickly narrows as you type more letters, making it easier for visitors to find and learn more about the attorneys and practices.

Sam also offered thoughtful criticism of the website. He mentioned that the content on the bio pages is lackluster and “with all the personality BD&P is trying to show on the rest of the site… this seems like a huge missed opportunity.”

I agree – and I think that the marketing team at Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer would agree as well. Prior to engaging Great Jakes, the firm had not spent much time focusing on its website, and thus their bios hardly contained any reputation-enhancing content. That will likely change.

The BD&P website was built to include Attorney-Microsites – functionality that allows for multi-page attorney bios. Essentially, each attorney (and practice area) has a small, highly customizable website that fits seamlessly within the firm’s larger website. New pages, with any type of content, such as PowerPoint presentations, video, podcasts, blog posts and Twitter tweets, can be added to suit the business development needs of each attorney.

Change at law firms is often a bumpy road full of fits and starts. But I suspect that over the next few months, as the firm’s attorneys grow more comfortable with the tools at their disposal, the BD&P bios will evolve from being one-page resumes into repositories of reputation-enhancing information. And that makes sense — the bios are a perfect place to express the firm’s uniqueness. It’s also the area of the website that is drawing the most traffic.

We are delighted that our client’s website was awarded this distinction. Thanks to the Lawyerist community for validating the firm’s decision to depart from design aesthetics traditionally found on law firm websites. And kudos to the attorneys and marketing team at Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer for being brave enough to explore some new ideas! You look great.


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  1. […] View the article at The Great Jakes Blog here: Congrats to our client! […]

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