How to Create Compelling Case Studies for Your Law Firm

Case studies can be a useful way of helping turn prospects into clients for your law firm, but not all case studies are effective. (To see my video about why to use case studies in your law firm marketing, click here).

There are 7 steps to creating a great case study:

  1. First and foremost, a good case study should be created from the perspective of the client, not the lawyer, because you want your ideal clients to see themselves in the case study. Let’s face it – no one really cares about you, they only care about themselves and what you can do for them. The client is the star; the spotlight should be on them and their story.
  2. Choose cases that will resonate the most with your ideal clients.
  3. Next, introduce the client – Who are they? What are they all about? What is their situation? What are they trying to accomplish?
  4. Introduce the drama – What problem is the client facing? What obstacles are in their way? How is the problem affecting them?
  5. What was your role? What actions did you take on the client’s behalf to solve their problem? How did you guide them through it?
  6. What was the outcome? How was the client’s problem solved? What impact did that have on their life or their business?
  7. Finally, iIf possible, get the client’s permission and participation. This will not only allow you to add more detail to your case study (and possibly use the client’s name) without running into ethical problems, but it will help to create a more convincing story. And as an added bonus, it helps reinforce the value you provided to that client.

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Quick and Easy Content: FAQs

Are you struggling to find topic ideas for your firm’s website, blog, newsletter, social media accounts, or presentations? Today’s tip is an easy way to develop topics for all of these and more.

One of the easiest ways to develop topic ideas for all of your law firm’s content needs is by using FAQs, or frequently asked questions.

  • What are the questions almost every client asks (or doesn’t ask, but wants the answers to)?
  • What topics do you need to cover with all new clients when they come to your office?
  • What questions do you staff receive on a daily basis from clients or potential clients?
  • Questions can be substantive (“How much money will I get for my case?” “What is an irrevocable trust?”) or procedural (“How should I prepare for my deposition?” “What do I need to bring to my closing?”)

Creating content around frequently asked questions saves time for both your potential clients and your firm. They help build trust in your law firm. FAQs can also help set expectations for potential clients about what to expect when working with your firm.

FAQs can help keep web visitors on your site longer, especially if you link to longer resources on your site from within the FAQs. For example, you might create an FAQ page on your website that answers questions in a concise manner and then link to a more complete page or blog post that addresses the same topic.

Since FAQs are just that – frequently asked – they are great for SEO because they mirror exactly the kinds of questions your potential clients may be typing into a search engine. Not only that, but if your FAQs are presented in a question-and-answer format, they can improve your results in voice search as well.

Frequently asked questions present an almost unlimited opportunity to develop content for your law firm. Every time a client or colleague asks a question, it is a potential FAQ topic, because if one client has the question, it is highly likely that others do as well.

Please leave me a comment and tell me what questions you have about marketing and running your practice – maybe I’ll address them in a future post/video!

For more about marketing see:

Are You Using Keywords Strategically on Your Website?

Are you using keywords strageically on your law firm website?

Keywords are words that your potential clients would use to search the internet for a lawyer who does what you do.

The golden rule of writing website copy is to write for human beings first, and search engines second. So you should never force or “stuff” keywords into your site. But as you are writing your web copy, you should think about using keywords strategically in a way that flows naturally on the page.

What do I mean by using keywords strategically? Well, did you know that each page on your website should target a different set of keywords?

And did you know that there are certain “power positions” on each webpage that Google and other search engines pay more attention to?

tiles spelling out SEO

When reading your web pages, search engines use algorithms, or specific sets of rules to determine what the page is about and to decide whether to return that page as a result in a search query. And they give more importance to certain elements on your web page, because the search engines assume that the copy that is used in those elements is likely a good indicator of what the page is about.

There are 5 power positions on your web pages where you should consider including your targeted keywords:

  • Headlines – especially the main (H1) headline on the page
  • Subheads
  • Bold text
  • Link text
  • Captions

If your keywords are incorporated into those power positions, your web page will rank higher in search for those keywords.

As I’ve mentioned in other videos, to be most effective, keywords also should be incorporated in your site’s meta-data, the behind the scenes code for the page that search engines see, but visitors don’t.

See more videos about law firm websites:

3 C’s of Strong Websites

Did you know that 75% of people judge a business by their website?

While lawyers may think this isn’t true for them, the fact is that, especially now, when many of our encounters are purely virtual, more and more potential clients will be judging you by your website.

A weak website can cost you up to 50% of your potential business.[i]

Let’s talk about three C’s for strong websites: clear, client-focused, and consistent. Let’s look at each one.


Attention spans are getting shorter by the day. Most people give your website only 8 seconds before they click away if they can’t find what they want or they aren’t sure they’re in the right place. I talked about this a bit in a previous video in relation to your Home page, but not every web visitor lands on your Home page first. Clarity is important on every page of your website.

That means that in the first 8 seconds, it should be clear to any visitor what your law firm does, who you do it for, where you are located, how to find what they are looking for, and what to do next.

[To keep your message clear, text should be easy to read – preferably dark text on a light background – and images should be related to the content of the site.]


Next, your website needs to be focused on your clients. Many law firm websites are weak because they focus more on the law firm than the client. Your website is about your firm, but it is for your clients.

To be client-focused, your website should speak to one client at a time, as if you’re having a conversation with them.

It should instantly solve a need for them; you want your ideal client to  land on your site and immediately think that you’re the solution for them because you understand their problem and know how to solve it.

And it should answer their most common questions.

To do all of that, you need to know your potential clients, their needs, and how best to speak to them.


The third C is consistent – your website needs to have a consistent voice in the copy throughout the site, and it should flow logically.

The look and feel needs to be consistent throughout the site as well. Page layouts, headers, footers, and navigation should be consistent. [If navigation is at the top of the page on the Home page, that’s where it should be elsewhere on the site.] You want your potential clients to stay engaged and to be sure that they haven’t accidentally navigated to a different site.

Is your law firm website clear, client-focused and consistent?


See more of my videos about law firm websites:

3 Ways to Make Your Website More Competitive

Is your law firm website competitive? In other words, does it help you stand out from your competition and rank well in the search engines? Here are three ways to make your law firm website more competitive.

Why us?
First, ensure that your website answers the question, “Why us?”

Why should a potential client choose you or your law firm over other lawyers or law firms that do what you do? Why are you the best solution for them?

Talk about what’s different about your experience, about the services that you provide, the way you provide those services, or even the way you charge your fees. But make sure that your website answers that question, why.

Use keywords or keyphrases strategically

Second, include keywords and key phrases in the content on your website that your potential clients would use to search on the internet for a lawyer who does what you do.

What words and phrases do they use to describe their problems or challenges? What would they actually type into Google if they were looking for a lawyer who does what you do? Incorporate those keywords and key phrases in the content on your site, but make sure that you’re doing it in a natural way that flows conversationally in your content, don’t just shove those words in for the sake of putting them on to the website – you’ll actually get penalized by Google for doing that.

Pay attention to your site’s metadata

Third, make sure that the metadata on your site signals Google and other search engines what your site and each page on that site is about.

Metadata is code that your web visitors don’t see, but that search engines use to return the most relevant results to any search query. That means those keywords and key phrases that those clients are searching for should be incorporated not just in your body content, but also in your site’s metadata.

Two big places to make sure that they’re included in your metadata on every page, are (1) the title of your page, and (2) the meta description. Those two things together are what make up the search results. When you type something into Google and you see a result, what you’re seeing is the page title, and the meta description.

To recap, use keywords and phrases in both the content and the metadata on your website.

If you’d like to chat about how your website is working for you and how I can help it become more competitive, please email me.

See more videos:

Is Your Website Turning Off Potential Clients?

In today’s video, I talk about three common mistakes that I see lawyers make on their websites. Or if you prefer, scroll down to read about these three mistakes.

It’s not easy to find what I’m looking for

The first one is that it’s not so easy to find what you’re looking for on the website. That might be because the navigation is hidden; your main menu should ideally be on the top or on the left side of your website.

Or it could be that the navigation buttons just aren’t clear – maybe you’re using legalese – using terms that lawyers use for what you do, instead of using the terms that your clients would use.

Or perhaps your navigation menus are just too big, and you have drop-down menus that continue off the page, making it very difficult to click through to find what you’re looking for.

You’re wasting prime real estate “above the fold”

The second mistake that I see a lot of lawyers making on their websites is that they waste the real estate above the fold, which is what you see when you first arrive on that very first screen on the website.

Too many lawyers put huge images above the fold and don’t leave enough room for copy to explain what they do and who they do it for. And it’s even worse when the image has absolutely nothing to do with what the lawyer actually does, or the image doesn’t mean anything at all to their web visitor.

The Home page is so cluttered, it’s distracting

The third mistake is there are just too many distractions on the website. There are a lot of ways that this can happen:

  • Using chat bots that constantly interrupt the web visitor and messing up their experience or getting in the way so they can’t find what they’re looking for.
  • Pop-ups that appear on every page, again, getting in the way of letting the web visitor find the information that they’re really seeking.
  • Big carousels with scrolling images or text that goes by so fast that you can’t even read it.
  • Poorly done video. Video is a great tool if used properly, but it can also be a distraction. Don’t post a video that will automatically play as soon as somebody comes on the website.

If you’d like to know how I can help you improve the user experience on your website, and turn your potential clients on instead of turning them off, please email me.

Watch more videos here:

Does Your Law Firm Website’s Home Page Drive Business?

Is your law firm website helping to bring you business? If not, this video is for you.

During this time of stay at home orders, with canceled events, limited or no ability to network or meet clients, prospects or referral sources in person, you my have started to recognize that your website isn’t performing as well as you would like it to. That is not likely to change even as businesses open up – now that people are used to working virtually, a lot more of your business and your networking is likely to be done online. And that makes your law firm website more important than ever.

When I talk to lawyers about their websites, especially solo and small to mid-sized firm lawyers, they often tell me that clients don’t find them on the web – that their business comes from word of mouth. But whether that is true or not – and I’d argue that it’s less true than most lawyers think it is – you can bet that a potential client or referral source is going to do an online search for you, and they will probably be checking out your website.

Three Basic Mistakes Your Law Firm Website Home Page is Making

What they find there can either actively work to help convince them that you’re the lawyer or law firm they’re looking for and get them to contact you, or not.

While not all web visitors will come to your website through the Home page, let’s start there. Here are three big, very basic mistakes lawyers make on their website home pages:

1. Doesn’t adequately orient the visitor

Studies have shown that you have only 8 seconds when a visitor first arrives on your home page to provide crucial information that orients the visitor to whether they’re in the right place. That means you need to put the most important information “above the fold” on a laptop, tablet, or desktop screen so the web visitor doesn’t have to scroll or search around to find it.

When a visitor arrives on your site, they should be able to tell in 8 seconds:

  • who you are
  • what you do – not just that you’re a lawyer, but what are your practice areas?
  • how you are different from other lawyers and why you’re the right solution for them
  • how to find the information they are looking for

2.  Firm information not easily available

I’m amazed at how many times I go to a solo or small firm lawyer’s website and can’t easily find contact information. This should also be easy to locate within the first eight seconds. In the industry, this is called NAP – name, address, phone number. Don’t make me search for your phone number! If you serve a local area, as most solo and small firm attorneys do, make sure it is easy to find your address – clients and referral sources want to know if you actually practice in their local area. If you don’t want to include your address above the fold, make sure it is easily found in the footer on every page of the site.

3. What should I do next?

Your website Home page should include a clear call to action to let web visitors know what to do next. Do you want them to download an article, contact you for a free consultation, fill out a contact form? The call to action should be clear, concise, and prominent on your Home page.

If you want to learn more about how I can help you improve your law firm’s website, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Get More Mileage From Great Client Testimonials and Recommendations

In my last several videos, I’ve talked about client recommendations – specifically on LinkedIn, but also on other sites – we’ve covered the mechanics of asking for them, as well as the best way to ask, and also talked about what makes a great recommendation.

So what do you do after you get a great client review or recommendation? How can you get the most from it? Watch the video below, or read on to learn how.

The first thing you should always do after you get a great client review or recommendation is to say thank you! You can do it on the same platform where the client left the recommendation – by sending a thank you on LinkedIn, for example, or you can send them a thank you email or even a snail mail thank you card (hardly anyone sends those any more!)

But to really get the most out of a great client review or recommendation, when you thank the client, ask them if you can use their review or recommendation as a testimonial on your website. If you’re a lawyer or law firm, you’ll want to retain a copy of their consent, so it is best to get it in writing. Even better, ask if you can use their photo to accompany their testimonial on your website.

Testimonials are all about trust, and a website testimonial that is accompanied by a photograph of the client gives your web visitors a level of comfort that the testimonial is from a real client and isn’t just made up by you.

If you already have reviews or recommendations from clients that you haven’t added as testimonials to your law firm website, consider adding links to your reviews on other sites from your websites by saying something like, “see my other reviews on my Google Business page here.”

You can add reviews and recommendations as testimonials to your law firm website in several places – you can create a testimonials or client stories page where you collect all of your testimonials. You can also add testimonials throughout your site where it is relevant. Add testimonials that refer to a specific practice area on that practice area’s page. Put testimonials that talk about your stellar service to the page on your site that discusses how you work. Testimonials that refer to a specific lawyer in the firm can be added to the firm’s bio page.

Check out my other videos:

What Makes a Great Testimonial or Recommendation?

In my last couple of videos, I talked about LinkedIn Recommendations and testimonials – why you need them and how to ask for them.

But what makes for a good client recommendation or testimonial? Watch the video below and/or read on to find out!

The purpose of a testimonial is to help overcome client objections and to help your ideal clients to recognize themselves and see that you are a good choice for them.

You’ve probably heard testimonials on television commercials for lawyers that say something like, “I was injured in a truck accident. The insurance company only offered me $7500 to settle my case, but my attorneys got me $1 million.”

That kind of testimonial tells you what the lawyer does – plaintiff’s personal injury, but I don’t think it quite goes far enough, and it’s a little one-dimensional, focusing only on outcome.

But clients care about a lot more than outcome when they are working with an attorney. They care about what it is like to work with you, how easy you made it for them to navigate the process, whether they felt like you really cared about them and their problems, and more.

You may have also seen testimonials on lawyer websites that said something like, “Allison was great to work with on my estate plan. I highly recommend her.”

This tells you what the lawyer does and says something about the client experience, but it still doesn’t go quite far enough.

The best client testimonials tell a story about the experience – and it’s that story that the potential client reading your website will relate to. Even better would be if the testimonial demonstrates a before and after – what objections or concerns did the client have before retaining you? How did you address those concerns or objections? How does the client feel now?

You’ll want to include a number of different testimonials on your website and recommendations on LinkedIn that talk about various aspects of your service or that address the most common objections that clients have when hiring a lawyer in your practice area.

For example, look at the difference between the following two testimonials:

  1. “Mary was wonderful! She was so responsive, and we really felt that she had our best interests at heart.”
  • “Mary was invaluable in helping us through a difficult time. I was a bit skeptical at first that mediation would be able to help us resolve all of our divorce and custody issues, but Mary took the time to listen not just to what we were saying, but to dig deeper to find out what was really important to each of us and to develop a financial and custody plan that would work for our family. Mary walked us through the process and was patient, even when we got emotional during our mediation sessions. She answered our questions, no matter how trivial and found a compromise that is fair to everyone and enabled us to move on with our lives.”

A good recommendation tells a story and gives potential clients a good picture of what it is like to work with you.

As always, don’t forget to check the rules of professional responsibility in your jurisdiction to ensure that a recommendation or testimonial complies with the rules before posting it; if it doesn’t comply, you may need to ask the client for a quick revision.

For more video tips see below:

Checklist for a Client-Focused Website

10 Questions to Ensure that Your Website Attracts Clients

  1. Are your clients described on your site?

Can your clients ‘see’ themselves anywhere on your site? Is there sufficient detail so that clients will read it and say, ‘that’s me’? Does your site include testimonials from representative clients, or case studies of typical matters you handle so that clients can see the kinds of people or businesses you represent?

  1. Does your site accurately describe the legal problems/challenges faced by your clients?

More likely than not, your website gives a laundry list of practice areas. But does it talk about the specific problems your clients encounter, or the situation in which they find themselves at the time they’re seeking your advice?

  1. Does your site talk about your clients’ problems in language your clients understand?

Or does your site sound like a bunch of legal gobbledy-gook? Are the terms you use on your website the same terms your clients use to describe their problems or challenges? Use the ‘mother/child test’ – if you read your site to your mother or child, would he/she immediately understand it?

  1. Is your site easy to navigate?

Are navigation buttons clearly labeled? Are they easy to find? Do navigation buttons look like buttons? Is there navigation available at both the top and bottom of your web pages? Is your contact information easy to find?

  1. Is your site easy to read?

Are paragraphs and sentences short? Are key points highlighted or set apart from the rest of the text? Do you use headlines, bold type and spacing to give the eye a rest? Is your site easily skimmable?

  1. Does your site provide valuable information to clients to keep them returning to your site?

Is your site a resource for your clients or merely an online brochure? Do you provide clients with information, resources, case updates, facts, new information that could affect their business, changes in the law that might affect them? The more relevant content that is on your site, the more clients will keep returning. You’ll build credibility, loyalty and provide fodder for search engines.

  1. Does your site establish you as an expert in your field?

Does your site contain case studies or jury verdicts to demonstrate your expertise? Does it contain statistics, testimonials or other evidence of the results of working with you? Are there published articles on topics relevant to your clients’ business, challenges or legal problems? Do you list seminars and speeches you’ve given on your practice areas? If this information is listed on your site, is it easy to find? Is it listed in an organized fashion, by date or by category?

  1. Does your site pass the ‘so what’ test?

Clients read everything with the “what’s in it for me” mindset. To  be really effective and grab clients’ attention, you can’t just describe your office, your practice areas and your attorneys’ qualifications – you’ve got to answer the ‘so what’ – how do those things benefit the client?

Don’t just say it – show it. If your site says that you’re committed to learning the client’s needs and understanding the client’s business, you must demonstrate that on your site. Show that you know what your client’s needs are by telling a story, providing a case study, or talking about your clients’ businesses (in general terms) on your site.

  1. Do you walk clients through your site and tell them what to do?

You wouldn’t let a client wander around on their own in your office looking for an attorney’s office, the restroom, the conference room or the coffee machine, so why let them wander around your website on their own? ‘Signs’ (navigation buttons) alone aren’t enough. Give your client a tour and lead them through your site by providing suggestions about where to go next, or proposing an action step.

A client who gets lost, can’t find what they’re looking for, or doesn’t know what to do next is just as likely to click away from your site as they are to go back to the navigation bar to look for something interesting to read on your site.

  1. Does your site demonstrate the difference between you and your competitors?

Your site should be a reflection of your firm’s personality. It should give prospects an idea what it will be like to work with you and highlight the benefits and advantages your firm provides. Clients are looking for people ‘like’ them, or people they can relate to. If your site is too ‘flat’ and clients can’t get a good feel for the firm from it, they’re likely to move on.

Using Infographics to Drive Traffic and Engagement

EngagementWith increased pressure on lawyers to develop content for blogs, websites and social media, any tool that helps increase visibility, drive traffic and boost engagement is a tool worth looking at. One such tool is the infographic.

In May of this year, I wrote about Slideshare as a tool lawyers can use to share content. That post focused mainly on presentations. But in July of this year, Slideshare released a new infographics player to make it easier to upload, discover and share infographics. Although Slideshare always allowed for the sharing of infographics through its platform, the new player optimizes the viewing experience for infographics. According to Slideshare, the new player automatically detects an infographic upon upload, includes it in the infographic directory and displays it for best viewing.

Since the launch of the new player in July, Slideshare has analyzed over 1000 infographics, and last week on their blog, Slideshare reported the following statistics:

-Infographics are liked four times more than presentations, and twenty-three times more than documents on SlideShare

-Infographics are shared two times more than presentations, and three times more than documents on other social networks, such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook

Infographics can be embedded into blog posts, displayed on websites, shared on social media, or printed for handouts for presentations or as a visual aid for clients.

Want to learn more about infographics and how lawyers can use them? Check out this post I wrote on on Infographics for Lawyers, or take a look at the presentation below:

Can Your Clients Find What They Need on Your Website?

mazeEver gotten so frustrated by not being able to find what you needed in a store that you just walked out? Don’t let that happen to your web visitors!

I was struck by an article in MarketingProfs by Leigh Duncan about her bad experience at an Apple store. Although generally a fan of Apple products, Ms. Duncan described her experience in this store as “bad,” but she turned lemons into lemonade by writing an article about her experience which she says contains some good lessons for anyone managing the retail merchandising experience.

But what does any of this have to do with a law practice? Not only does Duncan’s experience contain great lessons for retailers, but many of those lessons are applicable to law firm websites as well.

Here are some of Duncan’s highlights about her experience, and I’ve added my thoughts about how they relate to law firm websites:

Navigating the store was difficult and annoying. How is the navigation on your website? Are the navigation buttons large enough to read? Are they easy to find? Is it clear what those navigation buttons ‘point’ to? Are those buttons consistently labeled on all of your pages? Are the navigation buttons located in the same place on each page? Can your clients find their way back to the home page easily?

Navigation isn’t limited to the navigation buttons. Does your site include links to other resources or other pages on your site? Is it obvious that links are links? Do all links look the same?

Ensure that signs are not out of sight or difficult to read. Does your site contain sufficient signage? Is every page clearly labeled? When your web visitor arrives at your site, are there clear signs that indicate that they’re in the right place? Are the titles or headlines on each page sufficient to alert the visitor exactly where they are on your site?

Signage is particularly important on a home page or particular landing pages to which your web visitors are directed. Studies have shown that web visitors decide in only a few seconds whether a site is likely to provide them with what they’re looking for. If they have to guess, or take time to figure it out, chances are they’ll be gone before you know it.

Don’t make it difficult to get help. Duncan suggests that stores should provide customers with visible help, possibly in the form of employees that greet customers as they arrive. Your website should have virtual help conspicuously available, too. Is your contact information easy to locate on the site? Can your website visitor contact you from any page? Is there a way that visitors can ask questions? Does your site provide visitors with the information they’re seeking? Is there enough information on your site for visitors to feel comfortable with you and your firm?

Are you directing your web visitor through your site, suggesting the ‘next step’ on your site that they might want to visit? You’re not there in person to direct them the way you would be if you were giving a potential client a tour of your office, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have an obligation to guide them. Make sure your website guides your visitor where you want them to go. And don’t forget to include a call to action so that your visitors know what to do; encourage them to contact you!

Don’t make visitors ‘work’ too hard find what they need. How much are you making your website visitors ‘work’ to get the information they need? If someone comes to your site looking for information on a particular practice area, how many ‘clicks’ does it take for them to get there? Can they tell at a glance how to obtain this information? Is it easy to read the information?

Is the layout clear and uncluttered? Is the font large enough to read? Is it clear? Do the colors contribute to the impression that your site is trying to create? Do they blend into one another, making text difficult to read? Are they too jarring?

Is your site organized in a logical way? Are the names of your links and navigation buttons easily understandable to your average web visitor/potential client/referral source, or are other lawyers the only ones that would understand the titles and links? Would your average client easily understand your text without you there to explain it?

Let people get in and out easily. Are there barriers to entering your site, such as flash introductions or graphics that take a long time to load? Most visitors are likely to click away, rather than put up with the wait or the introduction when they’re looking for information.

Although audio can be an effective addition to a website, audio which plays automatically when a website loads can be distracting and annoying, particularly when the web visitor reaches your site during work hours, when they don’t want to ‘announce’ their presence on your site, or don’t wnat to disturb others in the area.

Don’t place congested areas close together. Although your website won’t have problems of congestion and crowding the way a retail store might, visual congestion is an important consideration for law firm websites. Too much visual clutter can tire and confuse visitors, making them more likely to click away from your site. The eye needs a place to rest – is there enough white space on your web pages to encourage visitors to keep reading?

Remember your ‘customers’ when designing your website, and consistently review your site to ensure that it is continuing to meet the needs of those customers. And remember also that where your website is concerned, your customers include not only potential clients, but also current clients and referral sources, among others. Make sure you make their ‘visit’ to your virtual office on the web is a pleasant experience, and one they would like to repeat.

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Allison C. Shields
Legal Ease Consulting, Inc
Creating Productive, Profitable and Enjoyable Law Practices

P.S. Found a mistake or a bug? If there’s anything that bothers you about this site, I want to know! Send me an email at I want this site to be not just a resource, but a refuge for lawyers. I want you to be comfortable here.  So if there’s something that bothers you, please tell me!

Have You Forgotten the Most Important Aspect of Your Website?

“To forget one’s purpose is the commonest form of stupidity.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

I like to start off my relationship with any client by discussing their purpose – not just the purpose for the individual project or problem we’ll be working on together, but the client’s overall purpose for their firm. It’s an integral part of every firm’s mission, which means that the purpose should guide all of the firm’s activities. A firm’s website is no exception. Unfortunately, many of us don’t give too much thought to the purpose of the website beyond wanting it to be a way of getting clients.

Purpose needs to be considered not only for the website as a whole, but also for each element on the site, and particularly each individual page. Each page of your site must have a specific purpose. If you don’t know what that purpose is, and what you want your clients or website visitors to do as a result, how do you expect them to know?

When people are searching the web, they want information, and they want it quickly. They don’t want to have to think. If your site is too hard to navigate or they can’t find what they want or understand your message in a very short period of time, more likely than not they’ll click away and look for someone else that can help them. That means you have to lead your web visitors around and tell them exactly what it is you want them to do. Where do you want them to go after they read your home page? Do you want them to read about your practice areas? Look at client testimonials? Sign up for your firm newsletter? 

Sure, there’s a navigation bar, and web visitors are free to use it. By why not tell them what you think is the next, most important step in their visit to your site? You wouldn’t have clients just wander around your office to discover things for themselves, would you? Of course not – you give them a personal tour of the office, pointing out the things you think will make the most difference to them. It’s the same with your website. Be your web visitors’ personal tour guide. And make sure you know and clearly convey the purpose of each and every element on your site.

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Allison C. Shields
Legal Ease Consulting, Inc
Creating Productive, Profitable and Enjoyable Law Practices

P.S. Found a mistake or a bug? If there’s anything that bothers you about this site, I want to know! Send me an email at I want this site to be not just a resource, but a refuge for lawyers. I want you to be comfortable here.  So if there’s something that bothers you, please tell me!


Does Your Website Forget About Your Clients?

Your firm just finished its next generation website. It’s got new colors and sophisticated looking graphics. You’ve finally posted bios of all of the lawyers in the firm, complete with photos and contact information. You’ve outlined your practice areas. Your site promises clients a broad range of experience, quality service, and superior results. So what’s the problem?

The problem is that although you may think your site is ‘cutting edge,’ many law firm websites fail to reach even a portion of their potential. Frequently, they are no more than on-line versions of a firm’s brochure or Yellow Pages ad. One way this manifests itself is in the firm’s failure to address or consider the clients’ needs and interests on the website.

Passing commentary about experience and service, without more, leaves the client out of the equation. Law firms miss a huge opportunity when they go to great lengths to describe their accomplishments or experience but fail to explain in concrete terms how those things help the client. Vague representations about ‘results’ don’t tell the client anything of significance.

Try looking at your website from the perspective of your clients. What are they looking for when they come to your site? Don’t think about what you want them to know – think about what they want to know. Or, if you must, tell them what you want them to know, but then make sure you tell them why it is (or should be) important to THEM. Why does your experience matter to the client? In what way?

Does your site provide useful content to your clients? Is it a resource that they will return to over and over again? Are you providing information that affects them and their business or the issues that affect your representation? If you’ve written an article or given a talk that would be of interest to your clients, why not re-purpose it as an article on your website? Do you give talks or presentations to clients? If so, putting a list of topics that you’ve spoken about, or that you are available to speak to clients about, can be another way of letting clients know you’re there to help them, and that you’re on top of the latest issues that affect them.

What else are clients looking for from your site? Do you have the basics, like directions to your office? Is it easy to tell from your site who a client should contact if they have a question? Is the navigation on the site clear and easy to follow? 

Is the copy on your site easy to read? Can the reader scan (as many web readers do) and still get the important points of your message? Does the text engage the reader, or is it so dry and boring that they’re likely to click away? Are there examples and statistics that demonstrate to the client that you know what you’re talking about? Examples of past successes, testimonials or case studies can go a long way to demonstrate that your firm is the one they should choose – or stay with. 

There are lots of things to think about when writing and designing your site. Your website shouldn’t be all about you – don’t forget to consider your clients.

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Already a subscriber? Want to learn how I can help you? Learn more about the products and services I offer by clicking here.


Allison C. Shields
Legal Ease Consulting, Inc
Creating Productive, Profitable and Enjoyable Law Practices

P.S. Found a mistake or a bug? If there’s anything that bothers you about this site, I want to know! Send me an email at I want this site to be not just a resource, but a refuge for lawyers. I want you to be comfortable here.  So if there’s something that bothers you, please tell me!


Is Your Packaging Distracting From Your Message?

I’ve talked before about making sure your website (and every element on your site) has a specific purpose, making sure that your site is focused on your clients and their problems, and showing your customers where to go on your site. Another concept which is related to all of the above is the concept of distraction. Is your site too busy? When looking at the pages on your site, is it unclear where to look first? Are there too many things competing for a visitor’s attention? Is it hard to read the text on your site?

If there are too many things competing for your web visitor’s attention, it distracts from your message. Since most web surfers are looking for information, make sure your site doesn’t compete with the valuable informatioin and education you’re providing on your site. You don’t want to divert your clients’ attention away from the real value of your site – the content you’re providing.

Packaging is important in any marketing materials, and particularly with a website. If the site isn’t attractive, your web visitors may not stay to read your content. But there’s a definite line between attractive and distracting, and that’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed. Some web site owners like to ‘show off’ by using every “cool trick” at their disposal, regardless of whether that tool is appropriate for the particular site. Don’t fall into that trap.

Your website, just like your brochure, the quality of your work and the way your receptionist answers the phone, affects the impression others have of your practice. It’s important to ensure that you make that impression a positive one. Lawyers are in the relationship building business. Those relationships are built on trust. Your website needs to convey that you can be trusted to advise your clients and to help them through their difficulties. If your website’s ‘package’ is distracting or leaves visitors stranded, chances are that it’s detracting from your image as a trusted advisor.

Here are some distracting elements to watch out for on your site:

  • Text in all caps. Placing text, even headlines, in all capital letters is difficult to read.
  • Text blocks that are too large. Long lines of text are difficult to read. Most web visitors are skimming (at least initially), and large blocks of text can be overwhelming or intimidating and can cause visitors to click away from your page or site. Break up large text blocks by adding subheads, or even just making the first few words or the first line of each paragraph bold, so web visitors can skim through the text and still get the main points. If you capture their interest, they’ll read the rest.
  • Broken links. Make sure your links are all working. Nothing is more frustrating than clicking on a link in a website that doesn’t work.
  • ‘Fancy’ buttons and links or unclear navigation. Make sure your buttons and links look like buttons and links on your site. There are certain conventions on the internet, and changing them around just confuses visitors. Since underlining on the web is used for links, don’t underline text that isn’t meant to be a link.
  • Sideways scrolling. Scrolling down to read text is something most web surfers are used to, and are willing to do. Scrolling sideways is frustrating and distracting. The text in a newspaper, book, or magazine doesn’t go all the way across the page – neither should the text on your site.
  • Sites that look good only in one browser. Make sure your site works in all different kinds of browsers. Check colors especially – the color that looks beautiful on your browser may be jarring in another browser. Don’t assume that everything looks the same. There are some colors that are considered ‘web safe’.
  • Distracting backgrounds. Trying to make your site look different by using a patterned or colored background? Does it make it difficult to read the site? If it does, ditch the background.
  • Inconsistency between pages. Your site should always look like your site. All of the pages on your site should look consistent – they should look like they all belong to the same site. Navigation should always look the same and be in the same place on every page, so visitors alawyas know where to find what they’re looking for.
  • Graphics that take forever to load. Is that graphic really important to your site? Can you make it load faster? If it takes too long, many web visitors will just give up and go somewhere else before your site even loads.
  • Blinking text. Some law firm sites use blinking text, thinking that it will draw visitors’ attention to an important piece of text. The problem is that even after visitors read the ‘importan’t blinking text, they’re distracted by it, and it prevents them from concentrating on the rest of your text. There are other ways to draw attention to important text by the use of placement, white space, headlines and other techniques. Blinking text just distracts from the rest of the page.

Although your site must have quality content that brings clients and prospective clients to your site and builds credibility, the packaging is important, too. Don’t let distracting packaging overshadow the content on your site.

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If you liked these articles, subscribe to my e-newsletter, and you’ll receive new articles in your in-box. The articles in the newsletter are not available to the public – the only way to see those articles is to receive the newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Want to learn how I can help you? Learn more about the products and services I offer by clicking here.


Allison C. Shields
Legal Ease Consulting, Inc
Creating Productive, Profitable and Enjoyable Law Practices

P.S. Found a mistake or a bug? If there’s anything that bothers you about this site, I want to know! Send me an email at I want this site to be not just a resource, but a refuge for lawyers. I want you to be comfortable here.  So if there’s something that bothers you, please tell me!