There are a number of companies that, with the help of the internet, are shifting the balance of power in the legal services industry away from attorneys in the name of greater public access.
Greater public access to legal services — and access to DIY legal tools in the place of hiring a lawyer — may sound like a good idea because it gives the consumer more options. It allows the free market to operate, and it assumes the consumer will choose the best option for their needs.
However, there’s a problem in this assumption. Any practicing attorney knows that clients don’t always act in their best interest, even when they’re given good advice. Do-it-yourself legal solutions on the web can be troublesome for both the public and lawyers because of the subconscious association that potential law firm clients make:
The availability of DIY legal kits — such as what’s offered by companies like LegalZoom — alongside the services of real lawyers suggests that these two elements are competing with each other. It suggests that there are different paths that lead to the same solution.
If the mindset of the potential client is that these two solutions are in competition — and because potential clients aren’t excited about hiring a lawyer and incurring legal fees — they may opt for the DIY approach in trying to bypass the lawyer altogether. The may not understand if their problem really does require a lawyer. Worse yet, for those who opt for a DIY approach — say for a will drafting kit when they actually need a trust — the error in their thinking won’t become clear until, perhaps, years later when there’s a serious problem.
It Starts With Your Law Firm’s Website
So how can lawyers keep from losing more power in the modern marketplace? At LawLytics, we believe the best way to compete with companies (that are not law firms) that offer DIY legal solutions and legal advice is to do two things: give away the information you have to your potential clients, and to make personal connections with them. The best way to do that is through your law firm’s website and blog.
The internet is the most powerful communicate method that’s ever been built. The information that can be found on the internet can help potential law firm clients answer questions that they have about their case or problem in a few clicks. It can inform them about what they need to do next. Before potential clients decide on a lawyer (or even realize that they need one), they’re asking questions of search engines. By answering questions in substantive pages and in blog posts, you create opportunities to have your law firm pages returned in search results.
This creates an opportunity to engage those potential clients with information that’s useful and easy to understand. If you are responsible for helping them understand more about their case or problem, they’re much more likely to engage your law firm and to understand why your services are necessary.
Some lawyers may think that contributing their thoughts and advice to legal forums is a good way to get new business, but many of these companies . By contributing your thoughts to them — and not to your own website — you’re simply helping grow their business and not your own.
It can be tempting to believe that these companies act as a soapbox allowing you to market your practice, but really, you’re making it harder for your firm to compete with them. They’re using your labor for the gain of the company — not your law firm. Attorneys should own their work instead of giving their work away to companies that may be using your own labor to force you out of the market.
Providing information on your website that clearly explains answers to client questions — whether that’s the questions they ask most often, or haven’t asked but need to know — is the best way to compete with these companies. Another thing to consider is the value in forging personal connections with your clients. Again, the best way to do this is through your law firm website and blog. There are two parts of your website that can help build a personal relationship with clients: your attorney bio and your case results.
Your attorney bio page matters because it has the potential to be a powerful business generator. To work well, it must speak to your potential clients. A good attorney bio doesn’t just list your credentials and memberships in bullet points. It tells your clients what they really want to know. They want to know what you’ve done in the past, how enthusiastic you are about what you do, and how much you care about their problem. You can answer those questions through a meaningful narrative about your journey to the law, your formative years, who you surround yourself with and who you’ve helped.
While many forums and directories might only list your accolades and memberships in bullet points, a compelling story is much more likely to speak to your potential clients and help to create a personal connection that leads them to connect with your law firm.
Your case results are the most important points of social proof, and, written correctly, can tell powerful stories that inspire confidence in your potential clients and encourage them to contact you. Writing a compelling story involves laying out the facts of the case, explaining the challenges you faced, explaining how your background made you uniquely suited to win, and how the end result improved the life of your client. Your website is the best place to showcase persuasive evidence that you’re the attorney a potential client is looking for.
Most things on the internet are owned by, and either monetized or otherwise leveraged by somebody. The best way for lawyers to compete with online legal document companies like LegalZoom, or online legal directories or advice forums, is to work on your own property — that is, your law firm’s blog and website. By taking control of your web presence through your law firm’s website and blog, you’re building an appreciating asset for yourself, not for someone else.