Risks of Attorneys Not Having a Website

REFERRALS CHECK YOU OUT ON THE WEB

Some lawyers think they do not need a website because most of their business comes from referrals.

According to Margot W. Teleki in the July 17, 2006, issue of the New Jersey Law Journal, the first thing your referral will do is check out your firms website before giving you a call to see who and what you are and how well you're suited to meet his needs.

Gerry Morris, a white collar criminal lawyer and Austin sole practitioner, says, Sometimes clients referred to me by other lawyers come into my office with a printout from my website in hand.

If you do not have a website, you could be losing business without even knowing it. When a prospective client cannot find you on the web, that could send out a message that tour firm is too small, too new, too unsophisticated, too unsuccessful, or too behind the times to handle the good quality work you want to attract.

SMALL FIRMS LAG BEHIND

Legal marketing consultants Alyn-Weiss concluded that law firm websites are the single most effective marketing tools employed by corporate, transactional, and defense firms. In their 2006 national survey of 119 firms, 82% had received work directly or by referral during the past 24 months from their websites. Yet the American Bar Associations Legal Technology Survey for 2006 reported that only 40% of sole practitioners and 65% of small firms (2-9 attorneys) have a website. Almost all firms with 50+ lawyers have a website, and 90% of those with 10-50 lawyers do.

Some small firms with stretched resources think a website is too expensive because they don't have the budget to hire an information technology consultant. Others struggle to just keep up with the needs of their clients and still have a personal life. They believe they just don't have the time necessary to create and/or update a website.

WEBSITE BENEFITS

Other than looking inadequate or behind the times, there are several benefits of having a website. Websites give clients a chance to get to know you and your qualifications at their convenience and before they make the commitment of a phone call. They can emphasize your achievements and demonstrate your expertise, which you probably would not do in person. Informative articles and other valuable content pertinent to your clients needs build trust by providing the service before meeting. Websites save time and improve staff productivity by answering those recurring questions about office hours, location, and how the legal process typically works. They can include intake forms for clients to complete before their first appointment or lists of essential documents to bring to the appointment. Most importantly, a website with useful content and keywords often found by search engines will reach clients when they are interested, 24/7. Morris says his website (www.egmlaw.com) brought in enough business in the first year to more than pay for itself. Soon, it so outperformed his Yellow Pages ad that he cancelled it.

HOW TO START

Begin by shopping the competition. Many websites have the name and web link of the designer in small print at the bottom of the page. Contact designers whose work you like for an estimate. Ask friends and colleagues who they would recommend. You can find plenty of designers by entering terms like websites for lawyers or law firm web designers into a search engine. Websites like www.elance.com and www.guru.com provide a forum for freelance web designers to bid on projects and provide links to their portfolios. The expense you should expect depends on the number of pages and complexity of your site. A firm of 5-10 lawyers may expect to pay from $2,000 to $8,000 for a custom site. However, according to Luke Gilman, a web designer turned law student (www.GilmanCreative.com), a firm on a budget could still get a custom web design for under $1,000.

WEBSITES ON A TIGHT BUDGET

For greater cost savings, check out the template websites that are available. To illustrate how easy it is to create a template website, view www.houstoncoaches.com. It took about 8 hours of work initially, and costs about $12.00 per month at www.spinsite.com. For templates specially designed for law firms, visit www.legalwebdesigner.com or www.easylawsite.com. Their 5-6 page websites cost from $400-$1,000 plus a monthly fee of $25-$40. That usually includes domain name registration, hosting fees, and a limited number of email accounts. For a real bargain, check out www.easylawweb.com, where you can get a 5 page site for about $6 per month, or www.citymax.com for $20 per month. Finally, for the ultimate bargain, get a minimal site free at www.justia.com.

LEGAL DIRECTORY WEBSITES

Attorneys can also get template websites created for them at online legal directories such as www.lawyers.com and www.findlaw.com. A search for a lawyer usually brings up listings in those two directories on the first page of every search engine. Due to directory listing cost, even the simplest site runs about $2,000 per year and more targeted premium listings can cost much more. Many attorneys find these listings worth the price, although results may vary depending on the region and area of practice. Even some firms with custom websites still pay the fee to be linked to a directory listing.


For more information on The Rick on Attorneys Not Having Websites Contact Gilbert Garcia today at 936-756-3333.

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