Innovation is not a term you normally associate with law firm website design. Change within the firm can be typically slow and digital transformation seen as a risk.
But the tide is turning.
The sophisticated client base is demanding more from law firms.
But this article is no manifesto.
I want to provide you with some actionable advice (or more specifically, additional features) that you should consider for your law firm website.
Nothing too groundbreaking. But I’d suggest that when you’re reading through the list you’ll immediately see the benefit for your clients.
But first, I want to preface these website design ideas by saying they should be user-friendly (this includes mobile friendly) and add to your clients’ experience.
You’ve likely got a dozen or so forms sitting in your office, filed away and ready to hand to clients when they visit. You probably email them to your clients too.
The forms are exhaustive and the process of getting them in the hands of the clients is tedious.
Why not build these online forms into your website? You can of course ensure they are served over https to ensure your client’s security – just like an online transaction.
With the most basic online implementation, you can improve your client’s experience and get their forms returned to you faster.
But with a little more implementation, you can start to implement electronic signatures and build automated workflows with the help of marketing automation software.
For example, it could simply be automated emails reminding your clients to complete the form if it hasn’t been submitted. You can also get more organised and setup a series of automated emails following your client’s successful completion of the online form.
Anybody finding themselves in need of legal representation will be feeling overwhelmed and in need of clarification. They will be searching for information.
To put a little bit of context around this…
In Google’s study into how Australians search for legal services, they identified three defining micro-moments, the first being ‘What are my options?’
This is a moment where you can attract and engage potential clients if you invest in the right online resources.
According to Google, the ‘What are my options?’ moment is followed by ‘Who is the right fit?’. Imagine the competitive advantage you’d have if you’re the firm that provided the valuable information.
Yes, there’s potential clients ready to search for ‘family lawyers Melbourne’ and other like-minded search terms. In fact, there’s an average of 1,900 searches for this specific term on Google each month.
But the problem with this search is that every other law firm in Melbourne is likely targeting it as well. And when you consider that the top 3 search results garner 66% of all clicks, you have a tough task ahead of you with that approach.
Instead, if you’re a family law firm, you might want to provide a resource for fathers dealing with separation, and specifically, child custody. You could use that resource to target 480 online monthly searches for ‘father’s custody rights in Australia’. The only law firms currently ranking in Google’s first page for that term are based in New South Wales or Queensland, despite my search originating in Victoria. So, there’s an opportunity right there for a Melbourne-based family law firm.
If you’re delving into social media, then it is your resource-based content that will help you increase your social engagement.
So what resources can you provide?
I’d bet you already have some hard copy fact sheets in the office. If your clients find value in them, then people browsing your website for them should also be useful.
You should also look at building a library of FAQs, which will help you to score a featured snippet as well. For example, Prominent Lawyers currently has the featured snippet for ‘father’s custody rights in Australia’.
Joint Venture Landing Pages
Paying more attention to your firm’s digital assets doesn’t mean that you should ignore your sources of existing clients. For many firms, their primary source will be referrals. These referrals often come from other lawyers or firms that don’t provide the specific service their client is after, or they could come from other non-legal businesses.
For example, let’s say you’re a law firm that provides property law and conveyancing services. It’s likely that you’ve already established partnerships with local commercial and residential real estate agencies. So why not utilise your website to complement those partnerships and create a seamless experience for clients to go from the real estate agency to your law firm? If you create this experience, the relationship will be better for it.
How do you do this?
Create a landing page on your website for clients of the real estate agency. So instead of the client searching for your firm and landing on your home page, they can go directly to that specific landing page. It would show both firm’s logos to immediately confirm that the real estate client is where they’re supposed to be. And because you know what they’ve come to your site to do, you can uniquely tailor the content on the page to make it compelling. That approach will be much more effective than them landing on your home page and having to find what they need.
Creating an experience like that makes both you and your referrer look professional. It also makes the process so much simpler for your client.
While there’s an initial investment in developing an online utility or calculator, there are many benefits.
Let’s first look at some opportunities and examples.
i. Child Support Calculator Australia (by Slater & Gordon)
ii. Asset Pool Calculator (by Mathews Family Law)
iii. Stamp Duty Calculator (by Quick Law Conveyancing)
iv. Probate Costs (by Ingalls Law Firm)
v. Injury Award Calculator (NSW Department of Justice)
Now, I have to be honest, none of these calculators are particularly impressive or easy to use. So, there are some great opportunities for law firms to innovate and differentiate.
So why would you invest in an online calculator?
- They can be newsworthy
And if they are, you can get mentions and links from other industry websites and blogs. This will help you to generate traffic, improve your online reputation and boost your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) efforts. Here’s an example.
2. They will be great search performers
There is significant search demand for tools to help users calculate costs. For example, in Australia there are over 12,000 monthly searches for ‘child support calculator’. On a smaller scale, there are 210 monthly searches for ‘victims compensation calculator’ in Australia as well.
3. They are great advertising assets
Have you tried online advertising? It can be expensive, particularly if you’re competing in AdWords for competitive terms. For example, if you were to advertise for ‘child support calculator’, it’s estimated to cost you about $5 per click, while advertising for ‘personal injury lawyer Melbourne’ will cost you around $35 per click!
4.They improve your user’s experience
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, if your potential client is wanting to know their potential compensation, what value is a calculator? If you improve their experience and create a favourable impression, you’ll increase your likelihood of winning their business.