5 Pieces of Evidence that Your Law Firm Needs a New Website in 2020

Feb 15, 2020

1. Web design

– A Clean, Professional Website Projects an Organized, Professional Law Firm

– Your Law Firm’s First Impression is Judged through Your Website

94% of people say bad design is the main reason they don’t trust certain websites

When someone visit your website, what do they see? Do they see a clear, organized layout of location(s), services, and hours, or do they instead see something that looks like it hasn’t been updated for an entire decade? Although some law firms may be able to stay active due to their past reputation and existing client base, the reality is that all law firms need to adapt to the preferences of a growing, younger audience, at least online. Investing in a well-designed site will help ensure that clients, both young and old, continue to look to your law firm for representation. A modern website creates positive first impression for potential clients, helping you book more consultations and cases.

Some elements of a well-designed site are clear organization, high-quality imagery, and site speed (which will be discussed in the next section). An organized layout helps guide visitors to the information and services that they are looking for, providing an efficient way for them to determine if it is worth speaking to an attorney at the firm to discuss their case. Although imagery isn’t as critical a factor for law as it is for, say, restaurants, having high-resolution photos on your website conveys that your firm is professional and detail-oriented. Office and staff photos add a human element, helping visitors develop a personal connection that will overpower their initial skepticism. Likewise, speed is key to providing a positive visitor experience and providing potential clients the smoothest journey from reaching the site to requesting a consultation.

As an important part of creating a strong website, ensure that there are easy ways for potential clients to contact you across your website. By some estimates, 68% of law firms don’t include their email addresses and 27% do not include their phone numbers on their homepages (https://blog.capterra.com/the-top-15-legal-marketing-statistics-for-2017/). Since your homepage is the first thing clients see when viewing your website, make sure to include information that they can use to easily get in touch. If you aren’t comfortable including the information on your homepage, consider creating a clear link/button that redirects to your contact page, which should include this information. 

Key Example: Fragomen Worldwide’s website clearly displays key information that current and future clients need to know. There are tabs that outline the services offered and more information about the firm, and a clear “Contact Us” call-to-action button in the top right. In addition, each page has high-quality images that supplement the text content, conveying that they understand the value of clients’ time and are focused on delivering quality results.

Web Design Do’s:

  • Develop a responsive website that can easily fit the screen of any device
  • Have a well-designed website that makes a strong first impression and makes current clients proud to be represented by you
  • Ensure that your website is well-organized, with clear labels and buttons to direct visitors
  • Clearly indicate the services in which your law firm specializes
  • Make contact methods visible on all pages, and make sure it’s clickable for people browsing on their mobile devices

Web Design Don’ts:

  • Build a website on your own if you’ve never done it before
  • Use dated and/or hard-to-read fonts, low-quality photography and poor graphics
  • Have a disorganized site that makes it difficult for people to find what they are looking for
  • Make it hard for people to get in touch by adding unnecessary clicks or hiding your contact information

2. Mobile & Speed Optimization

– A Fast Website on Desktop, Mobile and Tablet

– Majority of Web Traffic is Mobile, but Only One Third of Law Sites are Mobile-Optimized

Up to 70% of web traffic happens on a mobile device

Though almost every website displays properly on desktops and laptops, the majority of law firms still haven’t accounted for optimizing the site display onto mobile devices (https://blog.capterra.com/the-top-15-legal-marketing-statistics-for-2017/). With the majority of web traffic occurring on mobile devices, it is now more important than ever to make sure that your law firm’s website is optimized for mobile.

A website with unappealing or non-functioning display on a mobile device will create a bad perception of your law firm, regardless of how good your site looks on desktop. Additionally, internet users are as impatient as ever–for every second your site takes to load, you’ll see a drop-off of traffic, potentially 10% every second. Think about it from their perspective: why would they spend several seconds (maybe minutes) clicking and scrolling for information when another law firm clearly displays exactly what they’re looking for immediately? Your website should be optimized for look, functionality and speed across all devices.

Luckily, unless your site template is very dated, your existing site probably has mobile optimization capabilities. There are also several “quick fixes” that can be implemented to increase site speed by a few seconds, which can be the difference between losing 10% of traffic or 50%.

Key Example: Baker McKenzie has both mobile and desktop sites that load quickly and are responsive to each device. Visitors on any device can clearly view industries served, see the locations in each country, and see the latest developments at the firm. Although Baker McKenzie is one of the largest global law firms, you don’t need to break the bank to develop a responsive website. As mentioned earlier, unless your site is very dated, it should have mobile optimization capabilities that can be enabled rather easily.

Mobile/Speed Do’s:

  • Check your site on mobile devices and tablets
  • Run a page speed test for each of your pages, e.g. through Pingdom’s free tool
  • Check Google Analytics to see how much of your traffic is on a mobile device or tablet
  • Check your pages’ bounce rates and see if high rates are associated with page speed
  • Ensure that your site template is up to date with the latest functionalities

Mobile/Speed Don’ts:

  • Rely just on desktop functionality
  • Assume your website is fast because it loads quickly for you
  • Lose valuable traffic for every second it takes your site to load 
  • Ignore quick fixes for speeding up your site like image compression and CDNs
  • Continue using un-updated or outdated site templates

3. Content Development

– Case Studies Demonstrate Results You Deliver; Blogs Convey Your Expertise

– Show Clients You Can Help Them Win

Companies Who Blog Generate 55% more Website Visitors than Those Who Don’t

No matter a law firm’s past experience, services offered or number of employees, the ultimate questions all potential clients will ask are:

  1. Do you understand my goals and will you accurately represent my interests?
  2. Can you deliver the results that I want?

Although a consultation can likely answer those questions fairly quickly, some potential clients aren’t willing to speak to a firm without first learning more about past cases and results. Especially if these peoples believe they have a lot to lose, they want to first know that your law firm has experience in their area of need and has proof that it can produce positive outcomes. This is why it’s important to have a content library with resources for potential clients to review.

Case studies help ensure potential clients that you have expertise in the area they’re looking for and that you have a strong, proven track record. Case studies recount specific scenarios in which a client had an issue, usually one that was complicated and/or higher stakes. They then outline the firm’s approach, how the firm represented the client, and the end positive result. Publishing case studies on your firm’s website can show upfront your capabilities and effectiveness up front, allowing the potential client to feel more confident considering your firm to represent them. However, be sure to avoid using the client’s real name if they wish to remain anonymous and/or confidentiality agreements are in place. Instead, consider using other identifiers such as aliases or generic terms (e.g. Company/Client D).

Similarly, blogs demonstrate expertise in key areas, especially if they mention current events and the implications from a legal standpoint. It also shows that you’re a thought leader on top of the latest trends in the industry, and know how these can potentially impact the types of clients you serve. As an added benefit, blogs provide additional website content that can benefit your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy, which will be discussed in the next section. 

Key Example: Hogan Lovells produced a case study on how they helped Nissan advocate to Congress for a more flexible requirement for better fuel economy. Though brief, the case study outlines the client, the issue, what the firm did, and the results. These types of publications help visitors see what results Hogan Lovells can deliver, and how the firm can produce similar results for them. The firm also publishes and maintains a blog as a part of its overall knowledge base, demonstrating its expertise in the areas of IP regulations, global banking law, and more.

Content Do’s:

  • Produce case studies for major cases in key areas you serve, if appropriate
  • Create a categorized blog relevant to the legal areas you serve
  • Update the blog regularly (at least biweekly) to convey active thought leadership
  • Encourage employees to contribute to your blog, if applicable

Content Don’ts:

  • Create a blog but neglect to post regularly
  • Make case studies “just for the sake of” having content. These should be “big win” moments
  • Make blog posts that are irrelevant to current events and/or areas you serve
  • Include company news updates in the blog. The blog should demonstrate thought leadership: a law firm’s current events should go on a separate News page.

4. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Listing Sites

– Turn Google into Your YellowPages

– Help Potential Clients Find Your Services

96% of people seek legal advice via search engine

If someone wanted to find a law firm 20 years ago, apart from asking their personal network they’d probably start in the classifieds section of the newspaper or by opening a YellowPages book and sorting based on specialty (family, personal injury, international, etc.). From there, they may develop a shortlist of firms. Then, they may call and ask these firms about fees, availabilities, and other information before finally making their decision. Nowadays, this process is streamlined through Google and its website listings.

Google attracts by far the largest traffic volume among search engines, and almost half of all Google searches are for local listings and services. However, with just 21% of users clicking more than one result and less than 10% of local searchers looking past the first page (https://techjury.net/stats-about/seo/), having a strong SEO presence is critical to being found by potential clients through this tool.

SEO (search engine optimization) is a strategy that helps Google’s search engine understand the content on your website, understand which users would most likely be interested in visiting your site and direct them there accordingly. A strong SEO strategy helps improve your website ranking in the search results, which over time can help you grab a page 1 spot for relevant searches. The most effective SEO strategies have focused keywords, concise page descriptions, and relevant webpage content to support the keywords and descriptions.

For example, if your law firm specializes in immigration law, keywords like “immigration lawyer,” “immigration law firm,” and “lawyer for naturalization” should be used to attract relevant visitors/traffic and improve your SEO ranking. You can use a free tool like Google’s Keyword Planner to help identify terms that people use to look for services like yours to create SEO keywords for your website.

Another helpful tool to attract potential clients for your services are listing/directory sites like FindLaw, Justia, and Lawyer Legion. These can complement your Google SEO strategy as an off-site SEO tactic, since they help generate backlinks to increase your digital presence to attract more potential clients to your website. However, keep in mind that most of these sites require subscription fees for listings, although Lawyer Legion offers a free basic listing.

Likewise, establishing profiles on review sites and Google Reviews (Google My Business) listings can help you collect positive feedback for searchers to see, growing their confidence in your ability to deliver results. In addition, reviews help improve your search engine results, helping you gain favorable rankings in a highly competitive industry.

SEO Do’s:

  • Ensure your website has SEO functionality built in, e.g. through plugins like Yoast
  • Use 1-2 focused keywords on each page relevant to page content
  • Vary keyword length, mixing short-tail with long-tail terms
  • Use tools like Keyword Planner to help identify popular/appropriate keywords
  • Develop a Google My Business listing to drive local traffic
  • If budget allows, create listings on lawyer directory sites and review sites

SEO Don’ts:

  • Practice “keyword stuffing” and use more than 2 keywords per page
  • Use only short-tail or long-tail keywords
  • “Set and forget” SEO metadata once finished
  • Use keywords irrelevant to the target audience and website content
  • Use keywords without verifying that they are currently-used search terms

5. Google Ads

– Paid Listings to Get on Page 1 of Google

– Grab Local Attention through Digital Advertising

71% of people searching for legal services believe it is important to have a local attorney

If you’ve used Google to look for something, chances are you’ve seen a Google Ad for a product or service related to your search. Google Ads help promote your law firm in relevant search results by highlighting your ad listing and redirecting visitors to a landing page that explains the offer/ad content in more detail. Targeted, strong Google Ads listings increase your ads’ quality score, which can help you achieve higher and more frequent positionings in the future. Google Ads is a great way to increase your visibility and direct people to your website, especially if they belong to the 71% looking for local attorneys.

Google Ads can complement your website and SEO strategy by driving additional relevant traffic to your site, as you can bid on keywords in your SEO strategy. If you’re wondering why someone would do this, it’s because this helps generate more traffic to your website, therefore building credibility and increasing the likelihood of being discovered by new clients.

Google Ads Do’s:

  • If appropriate, segment your keywords into organized groups
  • Use a mix of both short- and long-tail keywords related to your legal offerings
  • Determine campaign budget and duration beforehand
  • Actively monitor paid search campaigns and optimize where necessary

Google Ads Don’ts:

  • Have minimal keyword variety (e.g. divorce lawyer Boston, divorce lawyer Boston MA, divorce attorney in Boston)
  • Use irrelevant keywords in your ad campaigns, as this can damage quality score
  • Omit an end date and/or budget cap if you have a limited budget
  • “Set and forget” campaigns once uploaded

Bonus: Social Media

– Engage with Potential Clients through Social Channels

– Direct People to your Website to Promote Your Services

45% of law firm website traffic is through LinkedIn

Social media allows companies to connect with current and future clients in ways that were previously impossible. Instead of waiting for law firms to advertise, attend events or otherwise initiate engagements, social media users can start conversations and engage with firms in real-time. Although some law firms may view this as higher risk, it allows firms to more quickly and effectively communicate information to a wide audience, often at no cost.

Social media can be a strong conduit to your website. You can link your latest case study in a social media post so that people can download it and see what you can do, share your latest blog post to demonstrate thought leadership, and even create posts directly leading to your Contact page to encourage consultations. Since potential clients spend over 25% of their online time on social media (https://blog.capterra.com/the-top-15-legal-marketing-statistics-for-2017/), social media can be an easy low-cost way to grow your law firm’s digital presence.

Social Media Do’s:

  • Include key website content in social media posts to drive website traffic
  • Post regularly (weekly is the typical standard) on social media platforms
  • Respond promptly to follower comments, if relevant and appropriate
  • Check social media pages daily to ensure no engagement opportunities are missed and/or follower activity is appropriate

Social Media Don’ts:

  • Avoid monitoring social media pages for extended periods
  • Create pages but post nothing onto them
  • Neglect/delay responding to relevant comments
  • Post personal opinions onto company pages, with rare exceptions
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Mark Xu
Mark Xu is a content copywriter for StyleSite. Prior to StyleSite, he worked at a marketing agency where he helped international clients enter the American market. Mark holds a degree in International Business and Marketing from Bryant University and is currently working on his Master’s in Regulatory Affairs. Outside of work, Mark enjoys staying active with his 2-year old Samoyed and just about everything related to football.

About StyleSite

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