By Kevin O'Keefe

New years resolution for small law : Trash website and go with blog alone?

A few years ago it was blasphemy to tell a lawyer or law firm that they’d be better off going with a blog, alone, rather than a website.

Though I believed it to be sound advice in many cases, I got jumped on by legal marketers who said a lawyer could never succeed without a website. Heck, people made it sound as if a website was a requirement to get a license to practice.

Yesterday, Larry Bodine, Editor in Chief of LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell’s shared LexisNexis’ “Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Improving Your Law Firm’s Website.”

My first thought was #1, start blogging and let go of the mental gymnastics and gimmicks associated with a law firm website. If you’re not satisfied with the looks and content on your website, maybe you ought to trash it altogether.

Sure, when you have a large law firm or a good number of lawyers doing disparate types of work, a website is needed. But if you are a solo or small firm with lawyers focused on a single area of the law or target a group of people or industry, a blog may be better suited for you.

Speaking to the New England Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association in Boston (LMA) this fall, public relations professional and partner at 451 Marketing, Tom Lee, told the group it doesn’t matter if lawyers want to participate in blogging and other social media. It’s what clients expect.

Lee went on to explain it’s all about trust and a lawyer’s word of mouth reputation. This requires going where your clients and prospective clients are and networking. 90% of them use social media.

You want a blog or website as a hub for your social activity, Lee advised, with a blog being preferable. Unlike a website, a blog enables a lawyer to position themselves as a thought leader. Trust will be established with prospective clients and reporters will call.

Only 14% of consumers trust advertising. What’s a law firm website? An ad.

Though some of LexisNexis’ ideas as a to website are valid, why would you invest more money in something that people do not trust? Why would you buy Google Adwords as a lawyer, as LexisNexis advises, to drive people to a website that 86% of people do not trust?

Texas Appellate lawyer, D. Todd Smith, left Fulbright & Jaworski almost 7 years ago to start his own law firm. Rather than a website, Smith used used his Texas Appellate Law Blog for his Internet presence. First on his own, and later on joining the LexBlog Network.

Now, after experiencing success and adding another lawyer or two is Smith considering adding a website to his blog.

Note which came first, the blog, not the website. The one that could establish trust and a word of mouth reputation.

Your clients and prospective clients don’t distinguish between a blog and a website based on how it looks. 99% of people going to a nicely done blog call it a website.

A blog will have everything your website has — section about you, section about what you do, section about the type of clients you serve, testimonials, and contact info. It’s not as if clients will be saying “I was just about to call, but where’s the darn website?”

As you set your client development goals for the new year, you may want to think again before making resolutions to invest in your website before blogging.

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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