Upgrading your law firm website

Upgrading your law firm website solves a multitude of problems, even some problems you didn’t even know you had will be solved. If you go about it properly a website upgrade will enhance your profile and deliver new work to your law firm on a regular basis.

We probably review more law firm websites than anyone else in the country. In doing so I reckon 9 out of 10 law firm websites we see are rubbish and look like they have been built by someone with little knowledge of law firms.

Insufficient new enquiry

By far the most common website problems lawyers identify is that they get insufficient new enquiry coming from the website. And this can happen even after the firm has just paid for added SEO or an AdWords campaign. As I will explain later they could be paying three times more and it would make no difference.

Generally, with or without SEO and AdWords, lawyers are dissatisfied with their ongoing enquiry rate generating new work – so what is the problem and why is this happening?

Why are websites not converting leads into clients?

The answer is simple enough but requires an explanation. The short answer is that the website itself is just not good enough. These websites are little more than an online business card!

Today a website should act like a sales tool – attracting people who are potential leads, providing them with valuable information, encouraging them to come back and finally converting them into clients, or at least making them take action. The action you want a lead to take is to give you a call or fill out an online form to identify themselves as a person looking for legal help.

The problem is that lawyers generally have a lack of understanding about their own website. Lawyers have come to us saying they are spending thousands of dollars each month on SEO and AdWords and are dismayed when we say it is all for nothing. Why? Not because SEO and AdWords should not be entertained as a marketing tactic, it’s because their website itself is no good. Upgrading your law firm website, or at least undertaking a critical review, should be the first thing you do before spending any money on SEO or AdWords.

SEO and AdWords can’t save a crook website

Just because you are spending money to attract new leads doesn’t mean that you will receive new enquiries. The problem we regularly see is that if a website is in need of an upgrade people can be brought to the site, thanks to the AdWords or SEO campaign, but the enquiries just bounce off the website and never make contact because there is nothing on the website to make them want to call you.

This can be a hard truth for some lawyers because it forces them to acknowledge that their website might be inadequate.

So how do you know if your website needs to be upgraded?

This is a major problem because lawyers don’t know what they should do to improve their website and often the people they seek out for help have no clue about the legal profession or about law firm client behaviour.

Be realistic and confront the issue

Our advice: seek independent assistance, be realistic and do it now! The longer you leave it the more you will be retarding the growth of your firm.

Some lawyers need to be objective or at least brace for a reality check, whilst other lawyers freely admit they are embarrassed about their website (but – unlike their clients and referrers – simply and conveniently ignore it).

Most lawyers fail to consider:

  • How their site looks to their best clients or to their referrers. That is what happens: referrers are realistic and if they feel the law firm’s website falls short why would they bother encouraging a person to contact that firm because it’s a poor reflection on the referrer.
  • That people might be referred to more than one firm and, you guessed it, the firm with the better website will win out.
  • That their website operates silently 24/7/365. So the longer you leave it in a poor state the longer it represents you in exactly that light and the longer you miss out on new work or acting for those clients for all their ongoing legal needs.

For those lawyers who want to do something, what is the difference between an upgraded website and a new website and what should they do?

What does upgrading your law firm website mean?

Even if your website has major deficiencies you may not need to “throw the baby out with the bathwater”. That is, there might be some features or pages within your current website that do not need to be changed and other pages that do.

Problems we usually encounter include websites simply not being content rich. That is, the website content might say in dot point form or briefly what you do but there is nothing compelling to make a person want to call you.

Just because a lawyer says they are good at something or that they have the capacity to do it does not mean a lead will be persuaded to call you. Believe it or not that is a critical point that many lawyers fail to grasp. The same can be said for all the self-serving statements that typically lace law firm websites.

The content is often poorly written, focussed on the law firm and of no value to the reader. You need to reverse that.

Knowing the behaviour of the legal profession and law firm clients

Another major fail we see so often is that so many law firm websites seem to be the product of collaboration between a well-intended secretary or a clueless solicitor and some cheap web guy who has just finished a website for a dog catcher and the local Bowling Club. Perfect!

It is the same when a person presents to your office with a legal problem and they have no idea what to do or go about it and just don’t even know the right questions to ask you. If you don’t know what to ask the web guy, or if he doesn’t know what to ask you how can he be properly be briefed to get it right?

This is why you end up with menu items describing areas of law that mix up major areas of law with what are effectively sub topics. And this is why you might have a description about your staff profile which just doesn’t adequately detail the scope and breadth of what you have done. You couldn’t expect the web guy to take one look and say this needs more.

Where to from here?

We believe that specialisation is the key and we only work with law firms. Why? Because we were lawyers ourselves for a long long time and we know the profession and the behaviour of your clients.

We know what to ask and can cut through the bull to get to the point.

Importantly we have also created the largest library of content in the country so when we say your website needs to be content rich and the lawyer says that’s great but how will I get the time to write all that, in reality it is a click away and we simply provide it.

If you would like us to ‘run our ruler’ over your website on a no-obligation basis, just click here to send me an email.

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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