After reading Heather’s posting about trying to sell the benefits of reinventing a firm’s web site to embrace Web 2.0 technology, I imagined all of the law firms that might stick their neck out to champion such a move.
Then, I imagined all the ones here on Planet Earth.
Most lawyers I run into are more cautious than a scuba diver wearing a fish head suit in a shark cage. I think it is going to be hard for the conservative bastions of the legal industry to embrace the change before Silicon Valley is gabbing about Web 3.0 and how 2.0 is SO 2008…
Instead of investing in Web 2.0 technology, perhaps we should invest in training lawyers to exhibit Web 2.0 behavior: eliciting feedback, encouraging interactive discussions, collaboration and developing fluid, organic content.
OK, the old web site could use a tweak or two. The columns and the guy running up the courthouse steps with a briefcase have got to go. It would also be nice to see news and alerts that included client achievements instead of "Firm XYZ purchase 12 new desks for NYC Office" on the home page accompanied by a managing partner quote.
When it comes to Web 2.0, we should admit that we are not even going to go halfway with the investment it would take to truly transform a web site. Posting podcasts and having a couple blog links isn’t going to make Marc Andreessen nervous. I think I would rather have my lawyers creating and utilizing groups in Facebook or Martindale-Hubbell Connected than creating a duplicate version of it on my own firm’s site.
In fact, that is the biggest problem the industry has when it comes to marketing and business development: an insular view of the world of the client where the law firm tries to dictate a one-sided conversation centered around the preeminence and history of the firm. Creating a Web 2.0 version of that alternate universe does not make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. In fact, it sounds like a very lonely place.
Call upon your lawyers to blog, network, join professional networks, discuss and contribute. They should even try to get people to learn more by coming back to your web site. I am just not sure the web site is where the conversation should start.