February 8, 2022
By Liza Vasquez ICF CMC and Jeffrey F. Silber CPA MBA CMC
Certified Master Business and Life Coaches
You Have to Have Input on Your Firm’s Website
If you think your firm’s website is not something you have any influence over, please think again. The quality of your firm’s website can make or break all your other marketing activities on internet.
We think you are going to want to speak to those who control your firm’s website so that they can transform the website into a tool that helps the firm’s lawyers in obtaining more clients.
What is the point: Your website ready to receive the large number of visitors who are coming in 2022 when the pandemic is finally no more than an ugly nightmare from the past?
The New Front Door to Your Office
In the virtual world, your website is what a set of large mahogany doors were to a previous generation of lawyers – that is, it is where you welcome people into your office.
Strictly speaking, your website is not exactly part of social media. However, we need to spend a little time discussing it because for your internet presence, your website will be like the central hub of a wagon wheel with all your other internet activities radiating out from there and returning to the hub, your website.
No More Set-It-and-Forget-It
It became clear twenty years ago that every law firm needed a website. The original purpose was for your website to be an electronic version of your firm’s printed brochure. Back in the day, that was all that was expected of your website.
The Internet Has Changed Everything
Times have changed. Can you imagine a potential client reading your printed brochure more than once? Of course not! And that is why websites can no longer be a Set it and forget it situation with only the occasional addition of a new lawyer or the deletion of a departing lawyer.
Attracting Repeat Visitors to Your Website
Today, you will want to attract as many visitors to your website as you can. In fact, you will want as many repeat visitors as possible. Therefore, you need to rethink the fundamental nature and purpose of your website.
Visitors Return to See Something New
Visitors will return to your website only when there is new information to be read or seen. The contemporary law firm’s website needs to be a source of continuously refreshed valuable information to draw new and repeat visitors.
How do you accomplish this? By making your website a source of continuously evolving new and valuable information for your current clients and especially for the prospective clients you are targeting.
Does your website have a Learning Center?
This is where you need to post articles of current interest. You should require that every partner and senior associate write an article not less often than once every two months. These articles do not have to be long because these are not law school theses. In fact, the opposite is true, internet users are no longer accustomed to reading lengthy articles. They prefer skimming the bold headings above each paragraph.
These articles can come from your LinkedIn Posts
See below where we discuss LinkedIn. Get as much use out of those articles as possible. Let us warn you that 76% of in-house marketing managers report that getting the partners of their firm to create original content is their biggest challenge.
Inasmuch as obtaining new clients is just as important as doing high-quality legal work, it should be impressed upon every member of your law firm exactly how important writing these articles are to the future of your law firm.
Become a Clearinghouse of Information and Ideas
Your website should also be a clearing house of information from other sources. In a separate section of your website, you should provide your visitors with links to lots of other good content.
These could include links to government websites, news articles, and so on. Make the visitor realize that they do not have to do their own independent research on any given legal topic. Show them you are the expert and you have done that research for them. Provide the links to that information for their convenience. Again, this will keep them coming back to your website.
Keep It Fresh
These should be continuously refreshed with new links to absolutely current information being provided all the time. Among the links you should offer are where you have appeared on Webinars.
You, as a member of the firm, will be responsible for bringing new clients and important matters to the firm. Therefore, your individual profile on your firm’s website needs to be maximized.
Where to Begin
Let us begin with your Profile Photo. This should be a current photo, preferably taken by a professional photographer. Some lawyers like to post an old photo of themselves when they were younger, thinner and before they had gray or even when they still had hair at all. The potential clients might not even recognize you if you do this. Keep your photo current. Therefore, it should not be your high school graduation picture. Also, do not use a picture from a party on the beach. Just because you can take a picture with your mobile phone, does not mean you should use it on your website. Posting a bad or inappropriate photo means that potential clients might not take you seriously.
Your Profile Headline Statement
This appears directly beneath your name and rounds out a visitor’s first impression of you. This statement is vital, as it tells your connections 1) what you do, and 2) what makes you different. When you write this statement, do not merely list your current. Instead, explain what you do in a way that reflects your values and your personal mission.
To illustrate, an estate planning attorney, a client of ours in a midsize law firm in San Francisco who was posting this when she first began coaching with us: Associate attorney at Mosses, Galindo & Pereira. But she got the point, and her profile description now reads: Attorney helping families plan for their futures, preventing conflicts, and protecting their assets so they can preserve their legacies. To make a first impression, which is better?
Be Clear About Your Contact Information.
Include your email, your website address, and phone number so that prospects know how to reach you. If you make them work too hard to find you, then you will lose them. And please be sure that incoming emails from unknown persons do not go to your Spam folder or get Blocked. That would defeat the entire purpose of appearing in social media, but it is a more common mistake than you would believe.
Tell Your Story
Once you have cleaned up your digital first impression, it is time to tackle your “About” section. This is your chance to demonstrate what is unique about you, that is, why clients and potential referral sources should choose you over your competitors. Keep it brief or you will run the risk of being forgettable and that will kill your Personal Brand very quickly.
We teach our clients that when someone at a cocktail party asks you: What do you do? that your first response should NOT be to say I am a lawyer. Why? That tells them what you are, not what you do. It tells them nothing about how you can help them, or what solutions you bring to the world. In writing this section of your profile, imagine you are at that cocktail party but now you are on the internet, and someone asks you this question. Your “About” section should read like your cocktail party response, that is, friendly but highly informative.
Write in the first person and use complete sentences. Include a few notes about what makes you stand out. Such as if you have tried 100 cases; or you are trained in alternative dispute resolution methods; or you have decades of experience in the same practice area; or you are board-certified in a given practice area(s).
In writing this section of your profile, keep in mind that the more detailed information you include, the easier it will be for someone to find you in an organic search for a specific expert.
Share Your Experience
When you tackle the “Experience” section in your profile, resist the temptation to simply list your current position in the firm. Imagine what you would tell people at a professional networking event. Tell what you do, the specific responsibilities you managed, the unique contributions you make and tell some of your outstanding accomplishments.
When listing your skills, think beyond the traditional buzzwords such as “diligent,” “ responsiveness,” “out-of-the-box thinker,” and “sound judgment.”
People already expect that you as a lawyer will demonstrate these skills without having to mention them. Obviously, who would say about themselves that they are lazy, unresponsive, and have poor judgment? What you want to emphasize are those traits of yours that people would not necessarily expect you to have. Are you tech-savvy? Have you analyzed budgets? Completed diversity training? Are you a time management expert? Do you know how to code? Are you good at managing complex projects?
Think about what gives you a unique competitive edge and express these skills.
Keep Your Profile Current
As with everything else on your website, your profile needs to be kept current. This is critical. To keep a steady flow of new visitors coming to your website, you will need to utilize SEO’s (Search Engine Optimization) techniques.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is the practice of increasing both the quality and quantity of your website traffic, as well as exposure to your brand, through non-paid (also known as "organic") search engine results. Search engines scour billions of pieces of content and evaluate thousands of factors to determine which content is most likely to answer your search criteria. They do all of this by discovering and cataloguing all available content on the Internet (web pages, PDFs, images, videos, etc.) via a process known as “crawling and indexing,” and then ordering it by how well it matches the query in a process which is refer to as “ranking.”
We cannot present a complete guide to how SEO’s work, but it will be very important for you to use those key words and phrases that are being sought after by your potential clients. Also, we understand that bulls are color blind and are not actually attracted to the matador’s red cape just because it is red. They are attracted to the movement of the cape. Search engines are like that. They are attracted to the movements on your website. The more frequently you post new information, the higher you will appear on the search results. If your website is not updated frequently, you will drop further and further down in the search results.
In short. It will be important to use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools, to drive traffic to your website.
Mobile Phones, Tablets etc.
Be sure that your website is in the proper format to appear correctly on mobile devices other than your laptop computer.
Hiring a Social Media Professional
There was a time when a law firm could exist without its own IT professional on staff. On the other hand, the position of librarian has just about disappeared from most law firms, but almost no law firm can exist today without its own IT person to keep all the systems running well. Maintaining a professional website is not a part time job anymore. It takes a great deal of time, energy, and coordination. It is our strong recommendation that you hire your own Social Media Manager.
Coaching and Support in 2022 and Beyond
The post-pandemic world is going to be a great place to be a lawyer. Get ready for tomorrow now. Make yourself and your law firm for the post-pandemic world. For specific questions, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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