Where Law Firm Websites Go Wrong
If you go to most law firm websites, they spend the majority of space telling you how great the firm is, how accomplished their lawyers are, and how extraordinary their results have been. There is a common misconception that by telling our clients and prospective clients how truly awesome we believe ourselves to be, they will be more inclined to work with us. For example, here is how my bio read on our firm website in the earliest years of my practice:
Jeremy W. Richter graduated cum laude from Tennessee Temple University with a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education in 2004. He then moved to Birmingham to teach and coach at Tabernacle Christian School. Concurrent with his employment there, he earned a Master of Art degree in History at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2007.
In 2012, Mr. Richter earned his Juris Doctor from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law, where he received the Spirit of Service Award and was the Scholar of Merit for Special Topics in Environmental Law. Mr. Richter began his practice at Webster Henry in October 2012.
He resides in Birmingham with his wife Anna and son Jack, where they attend Gardendale First Baptist Church.
But here’s the truth – clients and potential clients don’t care what you did in law school five or twenty-five years ago. By and large, your pedigree is of little consequence to them. Clients are not convinced to work with you because of these things. Those do not address clients’ concerns. The trouble is that most firms are making their websites and their communication about themselves.[This is an excerpt from Stop Putting Out Fires: Building a More Efficient and Profitable Law Practice]
The Solution to the Problem of Ineffective Law Firm Websites
Make your website about your client. Your potential client has a problem, or else they would not be seeking out your services. They have invented a new piece of tech and need a patent. They had an employee injured on the job while their workers’ compensation insurance was lapsed. They have a business partner who has stolen money from them. Or they may have a problem they’re not even sure how to verbalize. If all your website does is tell your client how great you are, it doesn’t address their problem.
Your client needs you to help them identify their problem, but that’s not all. They also need to know that your can help them resolve their problem. According to Donald Miller in his new book Building a StoryBrand, one of the most common mistakes businesses make is failing to focus on what they can offer that will help their customers both survive and thrive. “The key,” writes Miller, “is to make your company’s message about something that helps the customer survive.”((Kindle, Loc. 352))
Potential clients may hear about your firm “through word of mouth or social media, but they definitely go to our website to learn more. When they get to our website, their ‘hopes need to be confirmed,’ and they need to be convinced we have a solution to their problem.” ((Kindle, Loc. 2024)) You can’t possibly convince potential clients you have the solution to their problems if all your website tells them is that you participated in a moot court competition 15 years ago and were the editor of the law review. “The customer simply needs to know that you have something they want and you can be trusted to deliver whatever that is.” ((Kindle, Loc. 2032))
How I’ve Attempted to Address the Problem
In my bio on my firm’s website, I want clients and potential clients to understand what they can expect from me and how I like for us to work together:
When approaching cases, my priority is to collaborate with clients to achieve efficient and effective results by way of tenacious advocacy. I strive to align my tactics and objectives with my client’s goals in handling cases. I enjoy the various aspects of litigation, ranging from strategy and planning that go into research and brief writing, to the in-person chess matches that take place during depositions and trial. It is important to me to keep my clients and myself informed of trends and developments in Alabama law so we can most effectively evaluate and prosecute cases to the best possible result. To that end, I regularly write articles in trade publications and author a law blog that focuses on insurance defense and practice/case management topics.
We are in a competitive industry. We need to turn every resource to our advantage. Your website is frequently the first face of your company many clients will see. If you are failing to adequately communicate with potential clients on your website, you may never have the opportunity to meet them face-to-face. If your website is all about you rather than your potential clients, it may be sabotaging your opportunity to represent them and resolve their problems. So be sure your website identifies your potential clients’ problems for them and tells them how you can address it, rather than telling them how awesome you are.
One last thing: if your firm hasn’t updated its website since Geocities was a thing, it may be time to give that some attention.
Artwork by Eric.