As attorneys are a changing generation, the need for a clear lead in technology is obvious and evolving. Older attorneys with a built reputation based upon ads in newspapers, pennysavers, pictures on park benches, the sides of buses and TV ads may be able to do well without a competent website (or sometimes without a site at all.) This is because veterans of the old school who maximized the media of the day now have what appears to be a clear reputation and history. Older lawyers also may be friends with a lot of judges, have friends who work at the state bar who can get them out of trouble and even have top speaking slots at organizations like CAALA, CAOC, ABA, etc. This means a trial lawyer can actually lease a booth, tout his latest trial, and get a lot of referrals from less competent attorneys attending the seminar.
Old Versus New Media
The latter of the techniques above, are some of the more ethical types of elbow rubbing for referrals, for which the trial lawyer pays the attorney who sends the case over a “referral fee.” Outside of putting up a shingle and speaking at seminars, it used to be very hard for lawyers to drum up business. TV ads, newspaper and what you 46 and under crowd consider to be “old media,” is actually relatively new for the legal professions. You see, until recently, it used to be illegal for lawyers to engage in mainstream marketing, with very limited exceptions.
This also explains why many lawyers with low bar numbers and greying hair seem to be so paranoid about running a TV ad, or even building a website for that matter. They are conditioned to think it is too risky! However, for younger or new attorneys just entering onto the scene, the situation is very different. The younger generation understand that attorneys also have free speech rights, and that the early courts and bar association regulations, like many government regulations, were an overreach.
Lawyer Lives Matter
After a hard fought battle in the courts, it was found that: “Lawyers’ Lives Matter.” In other words, we too have the right to make a living and not be beholden to some organization for leads. And as any modern firm or solo will surely find, without a straightforward web and social media strategy, they more often than not find themselves falling behind. True many younger lawyers are pushing the envelope online. But such is the practice of law. Eventually, a disgruntled client will put an end to most bad lawyers in the court of public opinion, and ultimately with the state bar.
Doing it Right is Key
But if done right, there are many portions of an internet methodology that can create a successful approach to allow a lawyer to grow in wealth and popularity. A well crafted Facebook profile, Twitter account, and LinkedIn page are all cogs in the machine. However, behind all of these needs to be a competent and attractive website to act as your main base.
A Site to Beat them All
A properly made main page is the center of the rest of your online presence. Such a site will be able to present your portfolio to prospective clients. By listing a series of cases and results, you will be able to expand your reputation from the safety of your computer screen. Furthermore, a well organized contact section will give potential partners a chance to contact you in various forms. This can include heading into your office to meet in person, to call or text, email, or utilize social media.
Furthermore, you must ensure that your site is fully ethical, as well as information. You can do so in different ways.
Non-customized information: When posting information about legal options, it is important to ensure that you are not giving advice that could be misused by any prospective client. Add in as much general information to the site as possible, with a disclaimer that your advice is not intended to be used as legal advice.
Furthermore, make sure that you clearly state which parts of your site, if any, are attorney advertising. If you are in a state that requires such disclosure, please make sure to meet all requirements.
Clarity can be key:
Make sure that you will be able to clearly delineate sections in your site. Add in self-crafted disclaimers into various portions of your site rather than simply at the footer of the main page. Some may even be done in a different color to be especially obvious.
When creating email forms or a contact page, ensure that you clearly state that ultimately the decision to create an attorney-client relationship is only determined by joint decision. Let visitors know that no such relationship exists and that information given is confidential without such a relationship. There is also no guarantee that you will agree to become their attorney.
With these and various other tips featured on this site, you can create a website that you can be proud of. It is even possible to have one of the most functional sites in the region and a chance to attract and retain clients.
Michael Ehline, Los Angeles area personal injury and medical malpractice expert, is able to assist up and coming attorneys in building their firms. He’s seen the ropes before, joining the bar after reading the law, just as Abraham Lincoln did. He is involved in various community and legal industry initiatives and hopes to provide a good example for the field.
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