Things You Didn’t Learn in Law School:

Front Door with stained glass panels fitted

(Photo credit: Ken Doerr)

After three long years of law school, you’ve finally graduated and are, at long last, handed a piece of paper that indicates that you’ve obtained your juris doctor. It’s official! You’re now a lawyer and can head out into the world and make a living practicing law. Or can you?

That’s a question that’s being debated an awful lot these days, as more and more people are weighing in on the topic and agreeing that law school does very little to prepare its graduates for the rigors of practicing law and running a law practice.

And, that’s why we’ve been writing a 10-part blog post series on the top 10 things you didn’t learn in law school. Today’s topic? Marketing. It’s something that is rarely, if ever, addressed in law school. But it’s an important part of running a law practice because, after all, without clients you wouldn’t have much of a practice would you?

Marketing your law firm has always been necessary, but these days, with the rise of online marketing, understanding how to use the Internet to gain exposure for your law firm is more important than ever. This is especially so since web-based marketing is often more economical, effective, and less time consuming than traditional marketing such as costly yellow page ads, print advertising and in-person networking.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that offline alternatives should be ignored–especially the always important face-to-face networking. But you can certainly supplement many traditional options with 21st century marketing tools.

Of course, social media is one of the most obvious ways to reach potential customers and referral sources and that’s why, in the past, we’ve often discussed the various tactics and tools to make online interaction more effective.

Another important online tool is your law firm’s website. After all, it’s the equivalent of your firm’s front door and is often the first thing that your potential customers see when researching your firm online. And rest assured, the vast majority of people searching for lawyers use online tools as part of their search. In fact, according to a the 2012 Attorney Selection Research Study conducted by The Research Intelligence Group, more than 76% of adults who seek to hire an attorney use online resources at some point in the process.

That’s why it’s so important to have an effective, attractive website as the virtual “front door” for your law firm. So, to get started, here are a few tips to ensure that your law firm’s website is the best that it can be.

Your website must be useful and usable

Your first objective should always be to ensure that your customers can easily find useful information on your website. The navigation should be organized in a logical, thoughtful way, making it easy for visitors to get in touch with you. Make sure your firm’s website is accessible and renders well on mobile devices. Also important is integrating your firm’s website with the software your firm uses to manage your law practice, if that option is available. This makes it easy for your clients to communicate with you and obtain case-related information, resulting in happier, more satisfied clients.

Simple Navigation 

Your website navigation should be simple and you should offer only a few choices. We recommend no more than seven. The best navigation tabs for law firms are: Home, About Us, Attorneys, Practice Areas, Locations, Testimonials/Results, and Contact Us. Also, make sure that the site’s design is clean and simple with readable text.

Tailor Your Site to Your Client’s Needs

Ask yourself the following questions. Is my site interesting to potential clients? What do potential clients care about? Are potential clients getting the information they need? Does my site showcase my firm in the best light? Are there calls to action to get visitors to contact me? Can my clients login to the case management system and access their case-related information?

Modern, Professional Design & Branding

Ensure that your firm’s website looks clean, simple and professional and works with all browsers, on both Macs and PCs. Include appropriate images and graphics, with memorable logos and branding. Choose a simple color scheme, using no more than three to four colors consistently across your site. The website should be easy on the eyes and the color palette shouldn’t distract users from the content.

Social Sharing Features

Make it easy for visitors to find a way to connect with your firm (and possibly its attorneys) on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media. Is it easy for visitors to share information they find on your site on their own social media channels? And, if your firm has a blog, is the blog set up to allow comments and can you approve them prior to posting?

Integration With Your Law Practice Management Software

Integrating your law practice management software into your website just makes sense. Doing so provides a functionality designed specifically for lawyers and provides clients with a streamlined user experience. Another benefit is that your firm’s website layout will be designed to maximize lead generation opportunities and increase your firm’s credibility, with both current and potential clients.  Some law practice management software providers like MyCase make it easy for you to integrate your practice management software right into your website. So, if you’re already using law practice management software, make sure to investigate their website offerings and see if their integrated websites will work for your business.

So what are you waiting for? If your firm’s website is a bit outdated, why not update it? Get started today and revamp the virtual “front door” to your law firm!

–Nicole Black

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