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Bar Association of San Francisco Member Benefits: Publications

Is Your Law Firm’s Website Lazy?


By Virginia Bisek, BASF Bulletin Contributor


People search the internet for information before making purchasing decisions. This includes searching for legal services. Potential clients may first ask a friend or relative for “a good lawyer,” but the next thing they’ll do is go online. Your website’s job is to quickly establish a relationship of trust between you and your client.

If clients can trust your website on their initial visit, they’ll pick up the phone and call you.
Many solo practitioners and legal organizations don’t have the time or experience to successfully manage a custom-designed website. Navigating the current tech terrain of website management and marketing can be annoyingly frustrating.

Are You a FindLaw or LexisNexis Enthusiast?

Often, legal professionals want to get a website launched and then forget about it. They want it to bring in a percentage of customers, certainly, but they can’t be bothered with the day-to-day business of maintaining it.

Well, you can have your cake and eat it, too. And that’s what many of you have done. You’ve turned to recognizable companies such as LexisNexis or FindLaw (and many more smaller and equally respectable companies) to develop and market a web presence for you.

But resorting to a third party doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your homework. If you are using such a company then you are spending roughly $4,000 a year, at the bare minimum. This basically gets you a design you pick from a library of available templates and six web pages of content: home; your profile; three individual practice pages; and a contact page.

In addition, your website will appear in search engine results on a rotating basis. How often it will appear is something to be discussed between you and the company. It depends on many factors (where your office is, what two cities you choose as your location choices, etc., etc.). There are several other marketing features that you can purchase to increase your chances of “being seen” by the search engines and “being found” by potential clients. Again, discuss this with your company representative.
Successful websites are from those that do their homework upfront. You should ensure that you are getting the best possible product and service to justify this yearly expense.


  • Don’t create a lazy website, which quite a few of you have done.
    Don’t chose a design template from a library and throw your brochures at the project manager assigned to your account.
  • Don’t insert this copy into your web pages as is, and launch your website without ensuring that the copy is formatted for the web.
  • Don’t use a bad profile picture (ask your friends).
  • Don’t use impersonal photos of smiling, happy people that you don’t know or that your clients can’t relate to.
  • Don’t use generic photos of tall buildings from unknown cities.
  • Don’t let third party companies rush the development process.


  • Do understand what it means to write effective web copy.
  • Do understand your target audience so that your website can speak directly to them.
  • Do format your copy so that your potential clients can easily scan.
  • Do take your time and pick a design template that matches your “brand” and allows you the flexibility to upload photos.
  • Do get professional web photos done, or know how to take them yourself.
  • Do take the time to learn the content management system (CMS) so that you can be a part of the development process and make edits easily.

It can be done quickly and if you can’t do it yourself, hire a seasoned web copywriter with experience using third party templates. A good web copywriter nowadays is a bargain due to a sluggish economy. It should cost $35-$50 an hour for this kind of a job and take 30-40 hours to do it right.

It’s Not Too Late

Four thousand dollars plus per year is not chump change. Do the math. If you are converting several clients per year into paying clients direct from your website, congratulations! If you are not, then you haven’t done your homework.

It’s not too late. If you have a lousy looking website with a third party—you can still go in to the content management system, pick a new template, edit your pages and start again. If you do your homework up front you should be able to sit back for six months and see what develops. If you haven’t turned visitors into paying clients, then it’s time to look for alternatives.


Virginia (Ginger) Bisek helps legal professionals and organizations create successful web copy. Email her at to discuss your project.

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