The future of the law firm website

by Great Jakes Marketing
Contact

After a half-century of remarkable stability and steady growth, the legal industry got hit by a ton of bricks called the Great Recession. Several years after the initial shock, it is clear that this downturn wasn't just a momentary blip, but a rather sizable shift in the business landscape. As a result, law firms are being forced to reconsider many aspects of how they do business.

What does all this mean for legal marketing? Lots.

During the past two years, my colleagues and I have studied the Great Recession's effects on legal marketing and law firm Web sites. Our conclusion is that the law firm Web site is about to undergo a revolution. Specifically, we expect law firm Web sites to:

• Become more valuable. Web sites will rival face-to-face meetings in terms of their importance in business development.

• Become bigger. They will grow to accommodate much more content.

• Focus more on attorneys. Law firm Web sites increasingly will cater to the business development needs of individual attorneys.

In short, a law firm's Web site will no longer be considered supplemental marketing collateral. Rather, it increasingly will be thought of as a marketing platform that is central to all aspects of a firm's marketing activity (online and offline). This may seem a radical notion for some firms. However, it is a natural reaction to major changes that have occurred in the business environment.

Web sites already play a vital role in law firm business development. Numerous studies show this. However, I strongly believe that they will become even more important--nearly as important as face-to-face meetings. Why? Because face-to-face meetings will happen less and less.

The legal business has traditionally been locally focused, with clients and the firm often located within 25 miles of one another. That's changing. The Internet and related technologies have made it much more practical to work long distance. But that's the least of it: Our culture is also changing.

CULTURAL CHANGE

One hundred years of the telephone, coupled with 15 years of the Internet and five years of Facebook, have made a large cumulative change in the way we relate to one another. We've all gotten used to managing long-distance "virtual" relationships--especially the under-40 crowd. And as businesspeople have gotten more comfortable with virtual relationships, they have become increasingly willing to hire attorneys outside their immediate geographic area.

In short, we now live in a world in which a client will hire an attorney located hundreds of miles away--as long as that attorney has highly specialized expertise that the client needs. This is forcing a shift in how attorneys think about business development.

• Old thinking: Business development is a highly personal process, almost always conducted in-person, often over dinner and drinks.

• New thinking: Your Web site will play a central role in business development as your client base becomes more geographically dispersed.

Here's what it boils down to: legal marketing increasingly will be about demonstrating your specialized expertise. And, in a world in which your clients may be located far, far away, this will happen largely via content found on your Web site.

If you accept the notion that the future of legal marketing is largely about demonstrating highly specialized expertise, this inevitably prompts the question: how exactly does one do this?

The answer is content marketing. This means creating reputation-enhancing content (like articles, blog posts, presentations, videos and podcasts) and posting them on the Internet for prospective clients to read.

Content marketing is arguably the most effective way attorneys can market themselves over long distances. I expect that as attorneys realize that attitudes towards geography are changing, we will see a massive explosion in the volume of content that attorneys create.

Law firm Web sites will expand because attorneys will want to compile all of the content they create into a central place for prospects to read (the firm's Web site), even if the content was originally created for publication elsewhere (like a social media Web site). This will cause the size of Web sites to expand greatly as the volume of content grows. It will also force law firms to think very differently about the purpose of their Web sites:

• Old thinking: Law firm Web site = online brochure.

• New thinking: Law firm Web site = publishing platform for attorney-generated content.

The growth of content marketing raises some interesting questions: How do we organize all of this content? How can we maximize its business development potential? One thing is for sure--most existing law firm Web sites cannot accommodate an explosion of content without becoming un-navigable messes. Therefore, I expect a fundamental change in how law firm Web sites are structured and organized.

FOCUS ON ATTORNEYS

The third major change to law firm Web sites will be a shift in

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

Written by:

Great Jakes Marketing
Contact
more
less

Great Jakes Marketing on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.