May 2012 Bar Bulletin
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May 2012 Bar Bulletin

Building a Better Legal Business via an Online Presence

By Dustin Reichard

 

The issue seems simple. You need to build your legal practice. So, excellent business card? Check. Dynamic letterhead? Check. Website and blog? Check … I think. Not so simple.

We all know that the legal industry is one of constant change and adaptation. It must continuously adjust to new court opinions, emerging clientele and modern ethical considerations, to say the least. The business of building a legal practice is no different. It too lies in a constant state of flux, often directed by developments in technology.

The growth of the Internet has not only changed the way lawyers practice law, but it has also directly affected the way lawyers choose to market themselves and build their business. The leading examples are Google and the World Wide Web. The emergence and dominance of both have quickly raised questions as to whether lawyers should carve out their own slice of the Internet, whether in the form of a website or blog or both.

But does building an online presence actually translate into a better legal business? The short answer is yes, if done well and effectively.

The Need for Websites in a Referral-Generated Industry

Websites for lawyers, when used as a marketing tool, are often overshadowed by referrals and a lawyer's reputation. The notion is simple. Referrals and reputation are likely the best ways lawyers gain additional clients. Websites take time to develop and maintain.

Potential clients also do not typically look for an attorney every day. Rather, they are most likely in need of legal services every five to 10 years. So, the odds are that a website will not be read regularly. Why invest the time then?

People looking for a lawyer will not always have a referral. A potential client also might have a legal issue that can only be resolved by an attorney in a very narrow specialty. This raises a distinct possibility that a potential client will turn to Google to locate a lawyer, and recent data bear this out.


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