An Online Presence may be a Legal Necessity
When asked “why don’t you have a website?” some lawyers respond:
- I don’t need one, all my business is from referrals, or
- It’s too complicated and too expensive to have a website.
Let’s look at each of those explanations in turn.
I don’t need a website:
We can start with two compelling facts. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project January 2014 survey, 87% of American adults use the Internet to research services, goods, and information. And a recent Nielson study reports that about three out of four people search online when they want to find a lawyer.
Those simple facts should be enough to convince you that a website is a necessity if you want to increase your business.
But, my business is from referrals.
We know that referrals are a great source of business. The odds are good, however, that most of those consumers find and review the websites of the lawyers recommended to them. If they can easily review the qualifications of one lawyer online but not the other, the lawyer without a website is at a distinct disadvantage. This is also true when several members of a family or a board of directors must make the decision. The ability of all the decision makers to review a lawyer’s website may be the key element in reaching an agreement on a particular firm.
If those reasons aren’t enough, here are three others to consider:
- A website builds trust and credibility. The information you provide can build trust in your skills and knowledge. When consumers believe you can help them with their problem, they will contact you.
- It creates a good first impression. Even the most basic profile keeps your law firm out there and in consideration for selection.
- It helps consumers make that call. Let’s face it. Lawyers can be scary. Consumers are often anxious when calling a lawyer. However, those that visit a website, see your picture, read your profile, get to know you a little, feel emboldened, and are more likely to call.
It’s too complicated and too expensive to have a website.
Creating a website can be complicated. To put it simply, there are three basic steps. First, get your domain name, second, choose a web host and sign up for an account, and third, design your site. Those steps require research to find the providers and take time to accomplish. The cost is not great if you do the work yourself. But, if you hire someone to accomplish each of the three steps, create the graphics, and another person to write the content for your website, the cost adds up.
Or you can use your profile on the free SBM Member Directory powered by ZeekBeek to create an online presence. Your profile can include a complete biography, areas of practice, courts in which you practice, arbitrations you've conducted, and publications, in other words, all the information consumers want and need to make a decision. You can also add words and phrases that describe your practice making it easier to be found in a search.
And, if you already have a LinkedIn account, you can easily use that previously written content to build your ZeekBeek profile. Or, for a fee, ZeekBeek will write the profile for you.
Lastly, it is possible to purchase a personalized URL (ZeekBeek profile web address) that you can use on a business card or in marketing your practice at a one-time cost of $25.00.
A website can cultivate relationships and help you find your next best client. Begin with a simple site, add content over time, and soon you will have an impressive online presence.
Roberta Gubbins has served as the editor of the Ingham County Legal News. Since leaving the paper, she provides services as a ghostwriter editing articles, blogs, and e-blasts for lawyers and law firms. She is the editor of Briefs, the Ingham County Bar Association e-newsletter, and The Mentor, SBM Master Lawyers Section Newsletter.
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