Originally posted on The National Law Journal on January 21, 2013
About a decade ago, law firms discovered the Internet — and not in a good way. It was almost as if a memo were circulated, reading, “Why don’t we all make websites that look the same and contain stale content and seldom-updated curricula vitae for each of our attorneys?” Some firms departed slightly from this standard — they used catchy phrases on their home pages or invested in designs that popped. But at the end of the day, these websites were mired in sameness. What do you expect? These were law firms, after all.
So I was more than a little surprised when I came across a website that really impressed me a few weeks ago. It was for the midsize Chicago firm, Levenfeld Pearlstein. You can view the site at www.lplegal.com.
I’ve been belaboring for years that websites need to promote attorneys in a far more dynamic way. Levenfeld seems to get it. As you click on the profile of a Levenfeld lawyer, your eyes are immediately drawn from left to right across the top of the screen. You see a personable and professional picture and can view multiple videos of the individual lawyer. These aren’t talking-head or boring continuing legal education-style videos, but rather productions that showcase the attorneys’ personalities. They describe the best advice they ever received; the most fulfilling thing about their work; how they explain their jobs to their kids.
Some marketers argue that buyers of legal services don’t care about the details of a lawyer’s life, but I disagree. Think about how clients hire a lawyer. Let’s say a dozen lawyers are competent to solve a problem — who gets the job? The most likeable lawyer, that’s who; life is too short to work with people we don’t like. A video can’t guarantee that a potential client will like you, but certainly can paint a clear picture of your personality.
I like that the format allows individual attorneys to customize their bios — an avid runner lists his “upcoming races”; a bookworm describes “what I’m reading now”; litigation chief Gary Blackman explains that he closely follows newspaper obituaries “because I love to learn about the things people have done with their lives in areas I know nothing about.” The bios link to the attorneys’ LinkedIn or Twitter accounts.
“The response was immediate. We decided to launch on a Thursday and sent an email to our entire database announcing the new website. Hundreds of positive emails came back, and so many stories,” marketing director Andrea Crews said. “One client called in and said, ‘Now when I refer you, I always include those videos.’ ” More telling are the analytics. “When you look at any individual [Levenfeld] lawyer, the most watched video for each person is the most personal video, hands down.”
As for buy-in by attorneys, Crews shared one secret: “Peer pressure works really well,” she said. “I lead the willing, make them as successful as possible, and then the other lawyers follow.”