I just checked my calendar and, yup, it really is 2012.

Other than the earth coming to an end later this year, it’s about fricken time you got a website.

There just aren’t any good excuses out there.

Yeah, I’m talking to you solo and small firms out there.

And this is especially true for those of you who represent consumers – family law, divorces, child custody, employment matters, trusts & estates. I’d add personal injury, DUI and immigration to the list, but those folks are marketing machines.

Seriously. If you Google yourself or your firm, what do you find? If the answer is NOTHING, than you are LOSING business every day, and you don’t even know it.

Case in point:

No secret that I went through a divorce a few years ago. I got numerous referrals and then tried doing my due diligence on these folks.

For the most part, I found NOTHING. It was alarming to me.

Normally between Google, Martindale, LexisNexis or Westlaw, I can find SOMETHING. But there was nothing on these people.

It quickly became apparent that I would not be able to use my CI skills to cull my list of 12 down to a manageable number. I would have to go meet with them to get to “know, like and trust” one of them enough to sign an engagement letter.

Obviously, I wasn’t going to meet with all 12, so I had to make choices based on things such as:

  • Where was their office location?
  • How quickly they returned my phone calls?
  • How much time did they gave me on the phone?
  • Were they pleasant or dismissing to me?

In the end, I had to go with a “hunch” and a “gut feeling” rather than facts.

I was placing my future in the hands of someone based on a hunch. How scary is that??

Thank goodness I have good intuition on these things. My mediator ended up being awesome, and was recently featured on the cover of Los Angeles Lawyer magazine.

He still doesn’t have a website :/

Fast forward to this week, I have a friend going through a divorce in another part of the state.

She just fired her attorney (who was a Super Lawyer, so she couldn’t understand why the relationship turned south), and was researching new ones.

One attorney came highly recommended, but had a low AVVO rating, and the other nothing. She was completely fixated on the AVVO rating, not that she knew anything about AVVO.

I offered to help her out and started researching these lawyers.

There was nothing there.

  • No websites.
  • Google search results were just directory listings of their addresses. Or their AVVO page.
  • Nothing in Martindale. LinkedIn. Facebook.
  • State Bar shows that they have not been disciplined.

Come on, people. It’s three fricken years later. Why are you still operating a business without a website?

Referrals are great, but how many potential clients are you losing because when someone goes to research you there is nothing to find?

There’s just no excuse. Unless there is some conspiracy out there that I don’t know about, urging you to remain anonymous in cyber-space.

Is it money? Go to WordPress.com and you can purchase a (or transfer your) domain for $10/year and get started.

You can use one of the free themes (backgrounds), or spend some money (under $100) for a fancier one.

Within a couple hours, you (or your kid) can have a basic website (see The Legalwatercooler) up and running.

You can upgrade and add personalized e-mails and drop your Yahoo! account already.

It might not be anything to win an LMA Your Honor’s Award over, but it will be functional, professional, and better than nothing at all.

If you don’t want to do it yourself, you can spend the money and have someone (Jayne Navarre) do it for you.

You want to perk it up, add in a designer (Zamboo), and hire a writer (Amy Spach), and you’ll have a professional presence out there to go with the business you want to attract.

When you have NOTHING, you are allowing 3rd party vendors (AVVO, Best Lawyers, Martindale, Super Lawyers) to have the first, final and only say as to your service capabilities.

Why would you do that? Don’t you want to craft your message and promote your services the way YOU want to promote them?

(((sigh)))

I cannot believe it’s 2012 and there are lawyers out there who don’t have websites.

  • jaynenavarre

    Amazing, right? It blows me away when I get those calls from solos and smalls for their “first” website. Just end of last year I helped a boutique trust and estate law firm in Seattle. For a very small, but valuable investment–they have told me it has made a difference–they now have an Internet destination that appears in search results on their names and practice. I helped them pump up their LinkedIn profile. Search results are obvious advantage, but really, not having a Website in 2012 is the equivalent of not having a telephone in 1970.

  • Allison Nussbaum

    My husband was a solo family lawyer for 15 years. In 2009, I forced him to get a website. I mean really, the husband of a legal marketer without a website? The shame. And you know what? Not one person who hired him between then and when he closed the practice a year later had either found him via a web search nor had even looked at the site. (He asked how he’d been found on his intake form.) most people found him by referral or (gasp) the phonebook. Seriously.

    I was perplexed until I realized that we – those of us who work in the business of law firms are the 1% in this scenario. Also, as we tell people all the time: know your market. We are in a small town in NH. Perhaps that was part of it. In any event, I learned that plenty of people still rely on the “old” ways to find lawyers. While I insisted that he maintain and update the site frequently, it was a real eye opener for me.

    • I don’t think people necessarily “find” you through a Google search, BUT, when the they put together a list of names referred by trusted friends, they do go to Google to find out more information.

      If there is no information out there about you, that does say something.

      We’re living in the age of Yelp and Facebook.

      You can easily feed Google the information to fill a page of search results. If YOU don’t do it, others will, and is THAT the information you want out there?

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  • Clearly, there are plenty of people who need lawyers who may not use the internet to find them (sorry about your husband’s practice, Alison). I’m a little suspicious of these people, though. They aren’t really doing a good “due diligence”, are they? How good a client will they be?

    The vast majority of US residents do have access to the World Wide Web (boy, I haven’t typed that out for a long time). Moreover, many of these are accessing the web through smart phones. I guarantee they won’t look in a phone book for a lawyer. They will use Siri or some other voice activated search feature to find their next lawyer. And the searches will be conducted on the web. And the lawyers who do not have a Google Place listing or a website or a blog or a LinkedIn profile will be…out of business, soon. Because they will be invisible.

  • Amen. I couldn’t agree more how confused I am, and sometimes frustrated by the fact that top notch legal professionals fail to have a decent web presence… Nicely put.

  • gtsakalakis

    I’m still trying to come up with a legitimate reason a lawyer wouldn’t have a website. The best that I can do is that they have abandoned the website for a more distributed web strategy (i.e. focusing on profiles, social platforms, etc).

    However, there seems to be a misconception here. Having a website and getting found via search engines and other places online are not one in the same.

    I’ve seen countless lawyer websites that block search engines altogether. I’ve seen others that lack even simple search engine optimization like including the lawyer’s name of firm name in titles, etc.

    For these sites, unless a user types the address directly into the browser, they still won’t be found.

    And of course, that doesn’t even begin to account for all the other people that use the search and the web for researching, vetting, finding answers and even as a more traditional business directory.