ne of the three questions prospective clients want you to answer on your law firm blog or Web site is who have worked for. Your law firm profile must detail the clients you have represented and the work you did for them. Such information will be a determining factor in whether people hire you.
Ask yourself what is more powerful when you are deciding who to hire or whom to buy from? The service provider telling you how great they are or people like you saying these guys are pretty good, you can feel comfortable buying from them. Your list of clients represents tacit endorsements by peers of prospective clients. That’s powerful stuff.
Lawyers always provide a bare bones list of clients without any description of who they are, what they do or what the law firm does for the clients. Ugh! Just because that was the way it was done in the Matindale-Hubbell directory for 75 years does not mean it is the right way.
Here’s the info you should include in your client list:
- Name of client (get permission)
- Short blurb on who they area
- Link to client’s Web site
- For personal plight work where you do not have repeat clients (i.e., divorce, personal injury, criminal defense) describe the people you represent. Such practice areas will cross all segments of people but you can describe the people by the problems and issues they face.
Breakdown your list of clients in an easy to read layout by industry, life experience/subject or practice area. Again do not just do it in a random list that is hard for viewers to follow.
Provide the list of sample clients in three locations on your site: in the firm profile, in the industries or life experiences/subjects section and in the separate lawyer bios. With a data base driven site this will be easy to do so you need not make changes to each separate Web page each time there is an addition, deletion or change in description.
Here’s some examples of how firms provide their list of clients (I need to find better ones):
Testimonials are powerful and compelling. The best are short quotes from past or current clients that describe what you did to help them. They should be broken down by practice area and industries or life experiences/subjects. Do not just randomly throw them together. This way a prospective client can see what others have to say about your work in the area for which they are considering hiring you. Another way to display testimonials is to have them tastefully placed in margins or ‘white space’ around your site.
You should verify your state’s ethics rules on testimonials. Some states have rules with outright prohibition of testimonials on the basis that testimonials are deemed to be false or misleading. Some states permit testimonials under limited circumstances such as actual clients or that the testimonial include a disclaimer that similar results may not be achievable. The most common approach is that of the ABA Model Rule which prohibits false or misleading communications such that create an unjustified expectation about the results the lawyer can achieve.
The safest approach is to call your state bar association’s ethics hotline or whatever it may be called in your state. I used mine on a regular basis when I practiced. Better to be safe than sorry.
Some lawyers will use references so long as a past client obviously is willing to allow people or companies to contact them. In my practice I asked some clients if it would be okay if I provided prospective clients with their names so they could contact them as a reference. I did not list my references on my Web site but I made clear that I had references available. Sometimes when clients were in doubt whether to employ a lawyer I asked if they would like to talk to others that chose to do so to find out about their experience.
We buy books at Amazon based on what other people have read and their comments. Though legal services cost more than a book, the fact a person or company used your law firm and speaks positively about you, can be as an effective a marketing tool as you’ve got. Use Cient’s names and testimonials. They work.