Setting up a website for your law firm? Who has the time?
That is a common reaction for practitioners at many small and solo law firms where building a website might feel like a lot of unnecessary time and expense.
But the reality is that a legal website is a must-have for modern law firms, no matter how small.
Even with limited resources, your law firm needs an online presence. It’s arguably more important to have a good website than it is to have a nice office, especially if you work with clients under 50.
After all, your potential clients probably aren’t finding you because they walked by your door — they found you, researched you, and possibly made first contact with you online.
Just like you don’t need a plush office with marble floors and designer furniture to succeed, you don’t need a custom-built website to attract clients.
There are, however, some basics that you should never skip in an attempt to cut costs or time investment.
Let’s discuss why law firms need websites and the bare minimum those websites should include.
Why does your firm need a website?
Many attorneys at small and solo practices are resistant to building websites for their firms.
Some think that building and maintaining a website will simply be another focus of attention in their already busy work lives, or that the cost will not be justified.
In other cases, a firm knows that they need some kind of online presence, but they are reluctant to invest. Instead, they look for cheaper shortcuts. Perhaps they just set up a Facebook page or create a simple one-page website that acts as a billboard.
The problem with these half-measures (or lack of any effort at all) is that your firm is cutting itself off from the main benefits of even a rudimentary website.
There are plenty of reasons you need a fully functional legal website. It’s not a luxury. It’s a basic part of doing business.
Surveys show that most people conduct a great deal of online research before hiring an attorney.
First, they search for certain types of attorneys in geographic areas, such as DUI attorneys in Atlanta. If you want to show up in those search results, you need a website that Google can find.
Next, potential clients will dig deeper into those results. They want to know who you are, what you do, what it will be like working with you, and how to get in touch when they’re ready.
If they can’t find what they want to know, they’re not going to call you. Instead, they’ll just look at someone else who makes that information readily available on their website.
Lots of people prefer to reach out through a contact form or messaging system on your website instead of calling. If they can’t do that, they might be reluctant to contact you at all. If it’s hard to reach you and easy to reach your competitor, that competitor is probably getting the business.
Your website is your first contact with most potential clients. What kind of impression are you creating?
Keep in mind that if you don’t have a legal website, your competitors will. An ABA survey found that almost three-quarters of law firms have websites, including 89% of firms as small as 2-9 attorneys.
What does your legal website need at a bare minimum?
We’ve said that your website needs to be more than one page, but it can still be pretty basic. What are the essential elements for any legal website?
Introduce the firm and lawyers
Your firm’s website first needs to introduce readers to the firm and its attorneys. You are specifically seeking to build credibility with the reader and inform them how your services align with their needs.
The website should have a dedicated page for the firm itself, such as an “Our Firm” page, that is separate from the home page. This is a place to share your firm’s story, give your firm some personality, and summarize your firm’s mission.
Your site should also include attorney biographies with professional photos. These are the places where you can highlight what makes the attorneys stand out, their career accomplishments, and how they currently help clients.
Attorney bios should also be written to add color to the attorney’s profile and humanize them, as opposed to simply being dry resumes.
For many firm websites, the attorney bios are the most visited pages. Accordingly, strive to keep these pages updated and well-written.
Explain the firm’s practice areas
Your firm’s website will also need practice area pages where you provide more detail about your services in plain language, accessible to laypersons.
Each practice area should have a dedicated page. Depending on your specialties, you may also want sub-practice pages, such as a “DUI” subpage under the “Criminal Defense” practice page.
Try to address the major issues and questions that your clients in this practice area tend to have.
If you are going to optimize for search keywords, the practice area pages are one of the main places to do it. When you want prospective clients to find your firm in a search for Ohio divorce attorneys or Los Angeles lemon lawyers, these pages are natural candidates for that purpose.
Provide contact information
A legal website needs a Contact Us page that provides details on how prospective clients can contact the firm.
This should include any physical address, phone number, and email address. Also include your office hours, and consider inserting a map showing your office’s location.
Be sure to also specify how clients can get in touch with your firm. Inform the reader how to schedule a consultation. State whether you accept walk-ins.
Include a contact form
Along with the contact information, the website should include a contact form for the client to fill out online.
One option is to title it a “Request for Consultation” form that sends you an email with the potential client’s legal question.
Even better is if this form can allow for automated scheduling of the consultations, saving a great deal of time for the often limited staff at small and solo firms. Tools like Calendly can connect with your schedule and allow prospective clients to choose an available time and book a phone call.
No matter what kind of contact method you choose to include, make sure that someone is responsible for checking those messages daily. Think about it – if you had to wait a week for a lawyer to respond to your first question, would you trust them to handle your case in a timely manner?
Beyond the basics of your legal website
When you need a serviceable website that will establish an internet presence for your firm, the items listed in this article are the key pieces to include. If you’re limited by both time and budget, these pages and pieces of information will be enough to connect you with clients digitally.
If you have the means, or if the legal market in your area is particularly competitive and you need to upgrade your website to stay afloat, consider these upgrades:
- An FAQ page can help you get listed higher in search engines and builds trust with potential clients.
- A blog is a great way to showcase your brand and legal knowledge, and having new content on a regular basis is a huge advantage in search engines.
- Showcasing customer reviews can be a great way to build credibility.
- Videos are usually considered a luxury, but if you have the budget to produce a nice introductory video with your attorneys, it can really help you stand out and humanize your brand.
Most importantly, only include what you can handle long-term. An out-of-date website can be worse than not having a website at all.
Commit the time to check your website at least once per month to make sure that your firm information, especially your contact information, is still correct. If you hire new lawyers or part ways with a key employee, update your website as soon as possible.
Building and maintaining a website might seem like a lot of work, but if you build it thoughtfully, the maintenance will be minimal. The effort you invest is just as much a part of your job as meeting CLE requirements, paying your rent, and keeping your professional memberships in good standing.
Want a little more help attracting new clients? Check out our free Marketing masterclass for law firms. This eBook is packed with more than 50 pages that detail the strategy behind marketing for law firms, from building your website to building your brand. Download your free copy here.