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24 Feb 2020

Three Reasons Why Your Firm Doesn’t Need a Website (And Three More Why It Does)

If you just woke up from a 20-year nap, you have a lot to catch up on. Cannabis is now legal in many states, gay marriage in all of them. Movies are magically delivered straight to your television. And there’s this whole thing about not eating gluten. But the craziest difference between the early aughts and today is this: your law firm might not need a website anymore.

Unbelievable, right? Not according to the ABA’s latest Legal Technology Survey Report. The annual study found that 14% of law firms are going without websites. That’s a sizeable percentage, and that number is even higher among smaller firms. According to the ABA’s findings, all law firms with 100 or more lawyers have websites. Meanwhile, 43% of solo practitioners are operating without websites, as are 8% of firms with 2-9 lawyers and 2% of firms with 10-49 lawyers. The share of solo firms operating without websites is actually on the rise too. In 2016, 38% of solos did not have websites; that number has jumped 5 points since.

Legal industry observer Bob Ambrogi offered a likely reason why solos and small firms don’t have websites: lack of resources. While larger firms have marketing staff, lawyers in small firms must often figure websites out for themselves. But that still doesn’t mean having a website would ultimately be worth it. Which begs the question: are there any good reasons not to have a website in 2020? Well, here are three.

  1.  Your firm has an alternative online platform: Yes, clients are looking for lawyers online, but that doesn’t mean they’re only looking for firm websites. One other thing that has changed since the year 2000 is the rise of social media platforms. For instance, both Facebook® and LinkedIn® allow lawyers to create their own pages on their networks. A law firm with a consumer client base can reach a whole lot of people with a well-executed Facebook page. Once the firm has 25 fans, it can even create a custom URL to make it easier to find. 

    For lawyers targeting a business clientele, meanwhile, LinkedIn is the place to be. Did you know attorney bios are some of the most popular pages on law firm websites? LinkedIn profiles do everything that attorney bios do and more. In fact, both Facebook pages and LinkedIn profiles give lawyers distribution channels for their content that are far more powerful than anything a law firm website can offer.  

  2. Your firm has more than enough business: Websites are so common that a law firm might feel obligated to build one. But that’s not a good reason to create a website. Most firms would say that the primary reason for having a website is generating business.

    So, what about solo and small firms that already have more work than they can handle without help from a website? Should they take time away from paying work to invest energy and resources into building one? The answer may be no.

  3. Your firm gets cachet from not having a website: Some of the coolest night spots are the ones that don’t have any signage. That “speakeasy” effect isn’t limited to bars and clubs either—customers of all kinds love a feeling of exclusivity. Certain law practices could make that phenomenon work for them, especially in fields where word-of-mouth recommendations among a cohesive client base are common. (Like, say, hip bartenders.)

The truth is, however, that for every reason that weighs against a law firm building a website, there are more that weigh in favor of it. Even in 2020. Here are three counterarguments that speak directly to the three reasons offered above.

  1. Websites work in tandem with social media accounts: Sure, a social media platform might be getting great online results, but that doesn’t mean a website can’t augment it. Websites and social media accounts should work together, not against each other. Firms experiencing great success on social media can keep things simple on their websites, using plug-ins and other devices to direct traffic to their social pages.
  2.  Firms should think broadly about their online strategy: A firm that’s overwhelmed with business might not see a reason to create a website, but their vision might be limited.

    You see, websites don’t just pull in business; they help lighten a busy lawyers’ load. Client portals, for instance, can eliminate inefficient client calls for documents and status updates. Websites can also be effective recruiting tools. Devoted to such functions, websites can be a boon to a busy practice.

  3. Websites can feel exclusive too: Imagine this. A sparse website for a high-end divorce practice, offering minimal details about the lawyers behind it. And then, in the middle of the page, a box for a password. It says: “Client access.” Don’t you want to get in?

Wherever your firm falls in the online landscape, just remember that a website may no longer be mandatory. Ask yourself the above questions before investing in one. You may need one. You may not. But don’t do it just because it feels like everyone else is. As the numbers show, whatever you decide, you will have more company than you realize.