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From Concept to Launch: Crafting a Client-Centric Legal Website

By Carolyn Hennessey posted 06-11-2024 08:15


From Concept to Launch: Crafting a Client-Centric Legal Website

By: Fayeruz B. Regan

Marketing Content Manager, Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen

Member-at-Large (Member Engagement), Virginias

Let’s start with the good news. Legal websites need to be refreshed every five to seven years, while most other types of businesses need a website refresh every one to three years.

The bad news? Law firms by nature want to project an air of consistency and trustworthiness, and with multiple attorneys at the helm to make final decisions, any type of change can feel like pulling teeth.

The joint legal event held by the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) and the American Legal Association (ALA) in April of this year was a much-needed gathering. The space was beautiful, we were in good company, and the lunch was delicious. But to be clear, attendees were looking for an education. Website invigoration is a constant in our world, and when taking on such a vast project, we’ll take all the clarity we can get.

It seems that whenever an LMA event occurs, whether a conference or social gathering, we let off steam by laughing at the ways we attempt to get lawyers to move the needle. Entire seminars have been dedicated to these trade secrets, and this panel discussion was no different. We learned that if we show the lawyers some of the amazing things other law firms are doing on their websites, the spirit of competition will grease the wheels.

To work in marketing means to constantly change. In this sink-or-swim environment, we need to learn the new social media apps, how to produce great video, stay on top of changes in AI, SEO, and trends. Every time we gather around the table to discuss the revitalization of our websites, we must be equipped with new tricks, and fresh data.

This seminar supplied us with expertise we can take back to our firms. If the purpose of our websites is to generate new business, we must think first and foremost about the people paying for our services in the first place.  A client-centric website is necessary to engage site visitors and put them at ease. Whether it’s fair or not, lawyers have a certain type of reputation. A fast talker in a tailored suit isn't necessarily the person someone will want to speak to when an injustice has occurred. They need to feel heard and to have someone meet them on their level. A thoughtful website will do just that.

If you are putting together a committee of attorneys to oversee website changes, always remember that the smaller the committee is, the easier it will be to implement change. Choose committee members wisely. You want diversity in the voices giving feedback, but they should be savvy and strategic in the online space. Set a project manager in place to keep all the moving parts in a forward momentum.

When lawyers get busy, the idea of a website overhaul may make them want to crawl under their desks. One panelist described a wonderful compromise. First, their firm consults their website’s roadmap. Then every year, they work on a smaller project, such as the homepage, or navigation. I liken it to cosmetic tweakments. When you do a little here and a little there, it’s not as shocking as a complete facelift.

If you are going to outsource your website overhaul to a third party, which most of us need to do, find a company that specializes in legal websites. Per the discission at the event, law firms “are their own animal,” and we should align with companies that understand the nuances. Get an understanding of the budget ahead of time, and clearly communicate this to the organization you’re partnering with. They can provide a menu of options and manage your firm’s expectations.

These are some of the way ways we can make our websites client-centric. Your attorneys may be bursting with legal savvy, but we should always communicate with website visitors as if we were speaking to a jury. No legalese, simple communication, and common-sense navigation. At the end of the day, we want site visitors to convert into clients. And we want to convert these clients into family, so they can evangelize and perpetuate the reputation we’ve worked so hard to secure. And all of this starts with a website tailored to them.