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Should Your Law Firm Have a Web Site?

Your law firm needs a website as a professional looking online brochure, but not necessarily to grab your share of clients who may be looking for your lawyer advertising on the internet. The second consideration is whether and how much to spend on Internet advertising which includes keyword bidding, search engine optimization and lawyer directories.

While printed brochures may still have a use for some law firms, their importance has diminished for law firms utilizing direct response advertising where clients will usually retain a lawyer at the initial meeting, such as personal injury, divorce, and individual bankruptcy. Potential clients responding to direct response advertising will usually meet with the lawyer and the personal relationship established, whether positive or negative, will overshadow any impression created by a printed brochure. However, clients who have retained a lawyer may later go on the Internet to view the lawyer’s web site. You don’t want your client’s latest impression to come from a poorly designed web site. With a professionally designed web site, your clients are more likely to refer you to their friends.

Today, people routinely check out a business by looking at it’s web site. Your web site address should appear on your business card, letterhead, printed brochures and giveaways. While you’re printed brochure was thrown in the garbage long ago, your web site is always readily available. Not only will potential clients be unimpressed with a website that looks like a novice built it, but so will competitors, adversaries and in the case of personal injury matters, insurance company claim representatives. Make sure that you have a competent web site design firm build your web site. For an interesting look at how a web site viewer’s eye looks at a web site see the Eye Tacking Study.

If you do not want to spend the amount needed to use a web site design firm, you can choose from 20 beautifully designed law office template web sites (on 3 pages) at TemplateMonster for around $50 (one time charge) or you can customize the template for around $300 at TemplateTuning (TemplateMonster & TemplateTuning are both divisions of the same company). The hosting service I use which has the best 24/7/365 telephone support (if you have some technical knowledge) for only $9.95/month is

Don’t expect to start a web site and find that people hurt in an accident will go to the computer, look on the Internet, find your law office web site, and call you. First of all, the Internet is a big place covering not only the United States but the entire world, while your law practice is probably only looking for clients near your office. Your web site, if it comes up in a search engine at all, may come up in a search by someone in California, although you may be in New York. Second, it is extremely unlikely that your web site will show up within the first pages of a search result, because lawyer web sites typically only have a few pages. Search engines are programmed to look for good informative content, not a short blurb about your firm, the cases you handle, and some verdicts you won. Unless you’re willing to spend thousands of hours on your web site, your web site won’t have much of a chance, without keyword bidding. Third, if your law practice is one that can benefit from direct response advertising, such as personal injury, divorce, bankruptcy or criminal, the web site is less important for advertising. With a personal injury practice, it is probably even less important because in most instances people with serious injuries will have retained a lawyer before they are able to get to a computer. The number of personal injury clients signed in New York through the web site are approximately 0.5% of the number of clients signed through TV advertising. For the amount of time and expense required to obtain clients through the Internet, your money is better being spent first on traditional means of direct response advertising. For those law firms with a large budget already being spent on traditional media, adding Internet advertising to your media campaign is a good idea.

To get around the problems with search engines, many law firms bid on keywords which will guarantee you first page placement if you bid high enough. web sites appearing in the search results because of keyword bidding will appear in a special section marked sponsored web results or sponsored links. People frequently ignore these results and go directly to the non-paid search results. I recommend keyword bidding only for larger law firms which can afford the cost. There are several reasons. One is that there is a lot of fraud due to competitors clicking on your advertising and there are computer robots that click on links. Fraudulent and robot clicks can cost you many thousands of dollars. See
Click Fraud Roils Search Advertisers
Stefanie Olsen at C/Net News. A keyword bidding management company can monitor your clicks and obtain refunds that are due you. My experience is that keyword bidding will result in your paying for fraudulent and robot clicks, salespeople, lawyers, people with general interest, people who already have a lawyer, as well as people hurt in an accident. While I did have a case that came from my web site which settled for $125,000, I have spent thousands of hours on my web site and the bigger it gets, the more work it needs to maintain it.

Bidding on keywords requires a lot of knowledge if you don’t want to waste your money. I see many large firms bidding on keywords which will not bring them any targeted traffic. I could write several pages on how to bid on keywords and maybe I’ll do that in another article. If you decide to bid on keywords, I recommend that you use a company that specializes in managing your keyword bidding. Make sure that they understand exactly who your clients are, what they are looking for, and what you offer.

Tip: If you list your e-mail address on a web page, it will be picked up by spammer software which scans web sites all over the Internet collecting e-mail addresses. This is guaranteed to deliver substantial quantities of spam to your e-mail
account. My suggestion is that you do not post your e-mail address on your web site. Instead, use a form, like mine at, that the sender can fill out and which will be e-mailed to you without exposing your e-mail address. Alternatively, you can post your e-mail address and mask it. To find out more about masking and a masking tool, see GetNetWise.


  1. While most of the major search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN have algorithms that favor larger sites, a 20 page solo practioner web site can still get 1st page rankings on those major search engines if the web site is optimized properly. Web sites that are optimized for specific keyword phrases can do exceptionally well at being able to generate new business via the web. The more localized and specific the keyword phrases are, the greater the chance of turning that visitor into a prospective client. Another factor is in bound links to a web site. I know plenty of sole practioners that work on link building for their site. This can be done through link exchanges with other attorneys or even listings on free legal directories. Then of course there are paid directory listings. If you're not sure if it's a good directory to list in, do some localized searches. Consumers typically search the web in this fashion: (location)+(practice area)+(attorney or lawyer). An example would be "los angeles personal injury lawyer". The web is the absolute best spend of money if done properly compared to other advertising options.

    Comment by Rusty — 3/9/2006 @ 8:43 pm

  2. Inbound links are important. But they are not alike. The best links are one-way from a PR4 or better site with the same keywords in at least the page heading if not the domain name. In addition, it is important that the link anchor text also contains the keywords.

    Ingvar – Law Firm Webmaster

    Comment by Ingvar Grimsmo — 10/28/2006 @ 2:41 pm

  3. Great article – with law firms in particular, I don't think the question is if they need a website, it's how to manage their overall online presence. Meaning: the firms I work with often have 2, 3, or more sites. Some sites are generic, some are focused on particular areas of practice… I'm interested in your opinions on "fragmenting" a law firm's online presence like this: the advantages and disadvantages.

    Comment by Clay C — 12/5/2006 @ 1:27 pm

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