Law firm websites that are bad for business

If you have a law firm without a website or you have a poor website and are still sitting on the fence and not convinced a website is necessary, then let me save you some time – you need one and a good one at that!

The real issue should be about the details, such as building a good website that is professionally designed, lead-catching, sales-increasing, and brand-differentiating – not whether you should have one at all. However, let’s backtrack for the non-believers.

Look at the weight of numbers

Today 93% of business purchase decisions start with a search engine search of websites.

In today’s world the place where most people in most markets go is to the internet, specifically a search engine like Google, Bing or Yahoo. These search engines are the big three and account for over 90% of all searches. Google is by far the biggest with about 7 of every 10 searches.

With 93% of business decisions starting with a search engine search, that means if you don’t have a website, you are only selling to 7% of your market. You are reducing the potential size of your business by 93%.

Law firm website market statistics

This has happened because consumer behaviour changes over time to adapt to modern technology, and consumer behaviour has changed to adapt to the digital age. As an example, note how little the Yellow Pages is used compared to 10 or 20 years ago. Now, if you want to find out about something (including legal services) you Google it, or at least 93% do.

People referred to you want to check you out online

Another reason why a website is so important for your law firm and its future is that there is a large portion of the market that won’t even consider you as an option when they are looking for legal services, if you don’t have a website that makes you look professional.

If I consider my own shopping habits, I know that if I am dealing with a proposed supplier, and they don’t even have a website or they have a website that is in need of an update, I pretty much write them off as an option and my view of that company is diminished. It gives me the impression that it is a company that is very poorly managed and certainly not modern thinking or up with the times.

A website enables you to say what you do, provide some content within your website to demonstrate that, and let people know who works at the firm and detail the scope and breadth of their experience. It is more than an online business card, you want to make it compelling for people to find you and then to contact you.

Access a large audience who don’t know you

This is really the opposite of the first two points. A website makes it very easy for people to find you, read up about your law firm, discover what you do, and be able to answer any questions they have about your firm.

People will be able to find your firm when they search for your firm on a search engine like Google which, as we all know, is where most enquiry starts.

It is true that you may be found in a search engine even if you don’t have a website, if you have a listing in a directory, the Yellow Pages, or your business could just show up in a Google My Business results. Leave this to chance at your peril, what impression does that leave with the audience where you have only basic control over what is displayed? What do they know about your firm?

An effective website provides a positive ROI

Another great reason why a website is important is that it will give you a positive return on investment.

If you consider the revenue you receive for one conveyancing matter, say somewhere between $1,000 to $2,000, or a Family Law matter, say between $2,000 to $10,000+ – you get the idea. Consider that your website will be operating for at least 3 years without need for any major upgrade – if you assume that the website costs $5,000 – $10,000 and spread that build cost over 3 years, then the cost can be as little as $150 per month spread over 3 years.

How many new matters do you need to generate to pay this back? It doesn’t matter what work you do, the underlying point is the same. Depending on what you do, my guess is that you may only need one, or possibly two new matters to make your website investment worthwhile.

The chances of your website generating more than a handful of customers over the course of five years is almost guaranteed given websites are about the #3 source of new customers for the average small business. The likelihood is that your website will deliver much more work, particularly if you care for it and keep it updated.

Consider the work that will be retained from your existing clients by them knowing or being reminded about what you do, who works for you and where you are located. (How many times have you spoken to a former client who tells you they have just done some legal work and discovered with surprise that you do that work too!)

Consider how much more comfortable your referrers will be knowing the firm they would like to refer people to looks professional when it is checked out online. Conversely, consider how many phone calls you are currently not receiving from people referred to you because they can’t see you online, or you are making a bad impression, and they call someone else.

Do the math, but I am sure when you look at the numbers, it will be obvious that it is worthwhile investing in your website.

A website gives you lasting value

If you have ever paid for any advertising and you compare the cost of that compared to the cost of building a website there is no contest, a website is far more valuable because it provides lasting value for years. When you pay for a newspaper ad for example, you get that one ad and any benefit that one ad generates but after that the ad is done.

The great part about a website is that your investment continues to work for you for years, 24/7 – particularly if you look after it.

What other marketing/advertising methods are there that continue to work for your business forever? Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads, a Yellow Pages listing, magazine ads etc are all one off, and you need to direct any leads they generate to your website anyway.

However, with a website, if you don’t make a positive ROI in the first month, no worries because you have from now and for as long as the website is live to get a return on your investment.

More reading?

We have written many articles about law firm websites, if you would like to read more on the topic see some of our other articles, for example:

What Next?

Times change, just like the need for printed phone directories, you need to move with the times. If you want people to be able to refer to your firm and for people to find you online, then you need a website that properly showcases your firm and it’s services. If it’s a poor site, or years old and doesn’t properly present your firm in a professional light then you won’t get the new enquiries.

Not having a website at all is the worst case scenario and means that you are ignoring a massive opportunity in being contacted to do legal work for people searching for the service they want. You can’t assume that every referral will be so strong that people referred to you will ignore the fact you don’t have a website, or that it’s old and tired, and call you anyway. If this is the case, will people even refer to you in the first place? Don’t miss the opportunity to present your firm to the world in a professional manner and showcase what you do and the level of experience you and others might have to solve the website viewers problem.

Every firm (other than your competitors) should have an up to date, attractive and modern website because they are so inexpensive and yet so effective. If you want to know more about where to start and how to go about it, contact me on 0407 018 109 or email me at [email protected]


About the author
Peter Heazlewood

Peter Heazlewood

Peter Heazlewood is a management and marketing consultant, he specialises in helping law firms develop their practices using business planning marketing and performance reporting techniques refined in his own successful law firm. Peter lives in Sydney with his wife and is the father of five adult children.
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