Is Buying Local Buying Smarter When It Comes to Your Law Firm’s Website?

At Amicus Creative Media, we speak to thousands of attorneys each year about our legal marketing services. During the course of these conversations, we’ve encountered our fair share of attorneys who decide to go in “a different direction.” We hear the typical responses: the price is too high, the price is too low (yes, we really get that), they’ve decided to invest their marketing budget on a different form of advertising or there are some changes taking place in the firm and they have decided to let the dust settle before moving forward with a new website.  While disappointing, these reasons all have merit. There is, however, a response which seems to be based in outdated perceptions of technology and that is the argument that attorneys should hire a local website developer.

Now this isn’t to say that the buying local movement isn’t an important one but when it comes to your law firm’s website, your local web developer down the street may not be the best option to help you reach your online marketing goals, here’s why:

1. Marketing a law firm is different than marketing your local dry cleaners.
Most local website developers don’t specialize in serving any one industry. If you do a search in your area, you’ll probably find that the same local designer who created a site for your neighborhood florist, also did the site for a nearby wine bar and your local office supply distributor. With little, if any, experience working with law firms, a local developer may be able to design an attractive site but do they know how to create a site which powerfully resonates with a prospective client trying to find a qualified attorney? Probably not. If you’re unsure how to detect if a local designer might be qualified to handle your law practice’s site, ask them which pages on a legal website are the most visited, and what type of call to action they would recommend to help you connect with prospective clients. If they struggle to answer these very basic questions, look elsewhere.

2. They don’t know what the Rules of Professional Conduct are
As an attorney, we don’t have to remind you how important ethics are. If you hire a local website developer, you will have to spend a lot of time bringing them up to speed with advertising requirements in your jurisdiction. If your designer is charged with regular updates to the site, you will also have to continuously monitor his or her work to ensure ongoing compliance.

3. Sure, they can optimize with keywords but do they understand your keywords?
Many web developers claim that they can help to optimize your site with dynamic meta tags and keywords, but there’s a rather big problem with that claim when it comes to SEO for a law firm. Ask yourself, will a local developer have enough insight into your practice area to help you identify and implement the right keywords? In most cases, the answer is no.

4. They set you up on their CMS built for web developers, not attorneys.
At one point or another, you will need to update your website. And if you really want online marketing success, you will need to make updates on a regular basis. Many local developers will set your site up on a “simple” content management system. Unfortunately, these systems can be incredibly confusing to an individual with no web development experience or knowledge of HTML, meaning your website will be nearly impossible to update without professional assistance.

When asking attorneys why they are leaning towards working with a “local guy”, most explain that it will just be easiest to have them come into the office to discuss their vision for the site. Having successfully designed over 750 websites for attorneys all across the country from our headquarters in NY, we can attest to the fact that, with the right approach to client service, you don’t need a local guy to get a good site. Advances in technology allow for video calls and screen shares, making face-to-face a reality even when you aren’t located in the same city. When looking for a website developer for your firm, consider specialization over location.

Once you’ve found a firm that specializes in legal marketing and understands your firm’s unique goals, make sure they offer the following options which will ensure you still get the same personalized feel throughout the development process:

  • Unlimited revisions
  • A dedicated team that will work with you during development, and long after
  • One on one review calls throughout the design process
  • Personalized training of the CMS
  • No limit to the number of “support” hours you get each month via phone or email

By combining legal marketing specialization with white glove service, you can be certain that you are getting the best of both worlds.

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Dolores Obrien

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