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How to write an engaging website that attracts new clients

By Heidi Turner.

There are many well-written law firm websites that proclaim the advantages of a particular attorney or practice, but that fail to deliver a steady stream of clients. That’s because such websites often aren’t focused on the clients’ needs. Instead, the sites focus inwardly on showcasing attorney profiles and descriptions of the law firm, with little thought to the people they serve.

Such websites frequently boast about

  • educational accomplishments

  • legal publications

  • awards

  • speaking engagements

  • how many dollars the law firm has won over a set period

and other material that is often irrelevant to potential clients. Yes, this information can confirm a reputation, but it doesn’t tell a client how the attorney or law firm in question can help them.

What potential clients want is evidence that you can meet their specific needs. It’s all well and good if you’ve won $10 million in the past five years, but was that in cases similar to theirs?

People buy from those they like, know and trust. If you're focused on building relationships, your website should illustrate how you serve your clients. A client-focused website will show readers that you care, that you want to help them, that you’re capable of helping them, and that you will work well with them.

How do you write a client-centric law firm website?

The first step is to know your audience. You can't communicate with your target clients if you don't know who they are, what information they need and how they relate to your site. Talk to your existing clients and find out what they felt they needed to know before they hired you, and what ultimately made them hire you.

Often, lawyers share the information they think is important—where they got their law degree from, where they articled, when they passed the bar—when clients tend to want facts that relate to them. Be honest, how many of your clients said they hired you because of the school you graduated from?

If you're advertising your services as a lawyer, clients can assume you've passed the bar, so they don't need you to confirm it. What they want to know is:

  • Whether you’ve helped people in similar situations to theirs

  • How you’ve helped those people

  • How your help changed their circumstances

  • If it’s worth it for them to hire an attorney

  • Why you’re the best attorney for them to work with

These are the issues your website needs to address.

Pay attention to the questions clients ask you. Do new clients tend to ask the same questions over and over? Address those on your website. Do they tend to have similar needs and fears? Do they often have pain points in common? This is information you can use in writing your website. Reflect those pain points, needs and fears in your website content.

Remember, when people go looking for a lawyer they’re thinking about the problems they face. They aren’t really thinking about you, except in terms of how you can help them solve their problems. Your website should show them exactly that.

When they know that you understand them they’ll trust you more, meaning they’re more likely to want to work with you.

How do you help clients, really?

Many people have no idea how an attorney can help them beyond believing their lawyer will win lawsuits for them. But most attorneys provide services that go well beyond filing lawsuits.

Clients may think that business attorneys draft contracts, which is true, but many business attorneys provide much more in-depth service, including risk mitigation, business protection strategies, and succession planning.

Communicating your full scope of services is vital to attracting new clients. It shows that you care about more than making money for yourself, you’re committed to providing value for them.

Is your website accessible to your potential clients?

This is an area that is largely overlooked. Not all websites are equally accessible, but it's important to make accessibility a priority when you create a client-focused website.

In 2018, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 was released by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) with information on making content on the Internet more accessible for people with a range of disabilities. These include "accommodations for blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity, and combinations of these, and some accommodation for learning disabilities and cognitive limitations."

Accessibility means writing in clear language that your clients will understand. It also means:

  • including alternative text for images, charts, videos, audio and anything else that is not text;

  • making sure viewers have enough time to read the website, including any text that flashes;

  • ensuring viewers can get the important information even if they cannot see it or if they cannot hear it;

  • making sure written content is distinguishable from the background; and

  • spacing content appropriately so viewers can process it.

Should I change the language I use?

When you're writing for your clients you should typically use less formal language than what you use to write for a judge or your professors, but that’s not always easy to do—especially if you’ve been trained and rewarded for writing a certain way.

Your language should be used to engage your

potential clients and show them that you identify with them. Write your website using first person (I, me, we) instead of third person (she, he, they, the firm). Write to your clients using second person (you) to draw them in.

Use the name your clients call you in person when you refer to yourself, rather than your formal name. If your clients will call you Beth when they see you, use that in your profile.

Give specific examples of how you've helped clients. Don't be abstract. Instead of writing "We've won a lot of cases," which most law firms can say, write "Prevented a breach of contract lawsuit against our client—a construction company—from going to trial by proving the claims against it had no merit.” Give a list of similar such examples to show the range of scenarios you can help in.

Eliminate any phrasing or language you learned in law school from your website. If you had to go to law school to learn it, chances are your potential clients won't understand what it means—and they won't be impressed just because you used it.

Above all, be authentic. Use your website to show potential clients who they'll be working with when they work with you. Establish a relationship with them by being genuine, writing about yourself in your natural tone and voice, and talking to them as their trusted advisor. Imagine you're having a conversation over coffee to explain what you do and use similar language in your website.

How do I distinguish myself?

Most lawyers who offer similar services can make the same general claims:

  • They fight hard for their clients

  • They're committed to their clients' success

  • They win cases

  • They are experts in their field

  • They go the extra mile

Distinguish yourself by telling stories. Instead of writing that you fight hard for your clients, share a story (personal details omitted) about a case where you fought hard and won. Highlight a time you helped a client be successful or went the extra mile.

Reading case stories allows clients to put themselves in the shoes of the people you've helped, which assists them in deciding to work with you. Where possible, build a story around the end result. Include important facts, the challenges you and the client faced, what you did to solve the client’s problems, and the results.

This shows clients how you can help them, and provides them with evidence of your commitment to them. The stories don't have to be long—a paragraph can be plenty. It's even better if you can get your clients to write or record testimonials talking about how you helped them or showed you cared.

How do I write my bio?

Most attorney profiles focus on their education, the bars they’ve been admitted to, their publications and their awards. They might also include a note about their family situation or a pasttime they love.

This doesn’t give potential clients a lot to make decisions from. It’s rare that clients care that much about where you had an article published—and chances are a lot of other attorneys have the same school and awards listed, so they don’t differentiate you.

Instead of focusing on those irrelevant elements, consider including these tidbits in your profile:

  • What inspired you to go into law? (Did you have a specific experience? Read a book? Have parents who inspired you? Was there a moment when you realized it’s what you wanted to do?)

  • What motivates you about the law? (Do you love fighting for justice? Representing vulnerable populations? Providing people with peace of mind? Holding big companies accountable for their actions?)

  • What is a memorable case you worked on or client you worked with? What made it memorable?

  • Who do you help and why do you want to help them?

  • What accomplishments are you proud of and why? Rather than listing awards with no context, share an award you’ve won, what it represents and why it’s meaningful for you.

When your potential clients feel they know and understand you better, they’re more likely to work with you.

Elements of a client-centered website

  • Uses first person voice (I, me, we) and addresses readers directly (you) at least part of the time

  • Is accessible to people with a range of disabilities

  • Contains messages and images that focus on the client

  • Shares accurate and up-to-date informationIs easy to navigate

Writing a client-focused website might seem difficult, and it can take some planning, but it’s worth it. Your clients want to feel you understand them—when they know, like and trust you they’ll be more likely to reach out to you and ultimately hire you. Having a website that focuses on clients plays an important role in attracting them to your law firm.


About the Author Heidi Turner is an award-winning legal writer and editor. Since 2006, she has helped her clients in the legal industry—including lawyers and law firms, legal technology companies, and legal SaaS organizations—connect with their target audience and establish their authority.

She helps her clients find authentic ways to engage their audience and build a reputation, with a focus on client-centric communications.

In addition to her writing and editing work, Heidi is an instructor in Simon Fraser University's editing program.

#HeidiTurner #communication #legal #clientcentric

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