In Part 1 of Law Firm Web Sites I asked: “Is your Web site so 1999 that it’s holding your firm back?” Well, for many of us, including me, the answer is “yes.” So how do you approach a $40,000 – $1 million upgrade?

The first thing you CAN’T do is try to sell to your lawyers the interactive features of Web 2.0 – blogs, social networking and collaboration.

As marketers, we naturally gravitate to what is new, exciting and dynamic. Lawyers, however, are skeptical, autonomous and lacking is sociability. No wonder they resist Web 2.0.

According to Larry Richard, in an article Herding Cats: The Lawyer Personality Revealed:

Research confirms that not only are lawyers highly autonomous, but they share quite a number of personality traits that distinguish them from the general public.

Personality Trait % Lawyers v. General Public

Skepticism 90 60
Autonomy 89 60
Sociability 12 50

So how do you measure and sell the ROI of a Web site upgrade?

First of all, it is up to the legal marketer to determine what they can and must measure for their firm, and then they need to communicate this importance to the attorneys in a style that they can understand.
Lawyers like facts. Lawyers like charts. Lawyers like results. Lawyers want to know if the new Web site will bring in new clients. In truth, it isn’t often we hit the jackpot by a new client finding us through our Web site, but we can track daily hits, link backs, new subscriptions, downloads, or a multitude of other measurements.
When an article is printed in a legal publication can you crosslink to your site and then track the referrals? When your partner speaks at a conference, can you post his materials online for download? Can you track subscriptions for your newsletter, if you have one? How’s your SEO? Do you know what search terms people are using to find you? All of these can be directly controlled by the legal marketer, measured for results, and then communicated back to the attorney as stats, facts and figures to show value.
Yes, corporate America has embraced Web 2.0. Unfortunately, it’s going to take more than the lure of a blog to get the attorneys to buy in.
For me, the “sell” came down to the ability to send e-newsletters and announcements. At the same time I showed the attorneys how we couldn’t be found via Google searches and an upgrade on our back-end was necessary. No need to explain SEO.
Since our upgrade, our attorneys can now Google themselves and there they are. Success! We sent out an electronic client alert and I was able to show how many people opened the attachment and downloaded the PDF. And, we got a phone call from a client. Success!
Oh, and a service partner just approached me about starting a blog. Eureka!