March 16, 2017 Bob Werber

Boutique Law Firms Suddenly Get Smart About Web Marketing

When it comes to online marketing, boutique law firms are learning to capitalize on some unique advantages they have over larger firms. Up to now, firms have tended to fall into three main groups in terms of digital marketing:

First Adopters

Specialists in personal damages, criminal justice or divorce were the first to embrace the Internet in an aggressive way because they have a long history of marketing themselves directly to the public. Their websites tend to have very up-to-date designs, smart marketing copy and user-friendly contact pages offering free initial consultations. For these practices, the web long ago supplanted most print advertising.

The Big Boys

Next come large law firms, which have more recently evolved into serious web marketers. They are increasingly willing to invest in the “confirmation” benefit of a good site. That’s because they’ve learned over time that whenever a person or even another attorney recommends their firm, there’s a knee-jerk tendency for the potential client to look at a firm’s website before initiating contact. A site that looks old fashioned or fails to deliver basic information fails to confirm that the practice is a smart, state-of-the-art business. Having no site at all, a marketing “mortal sin” still committed by some small firms, might make a potential client wonder if the firm is still in business.

Next Wave Challengers

A new but growing force on the web are the “boutique” law firms, which often have highly specialized litigation skills. Having fewer attorneys than the mega firms, they’ve become scrappy online marketers competing online. A few key factors work in their favor:

  • A website that’s designed well can help promote their top attorneys as unique experts, rather than as part of a vast roster of lawyers who are difficult to distinguish online.
  • They can use a website to market themselves as providing more personal service than large firms.
  • They can promote themselves as a more cost effective alternative to big firms.
  • They can use a website to focus in on a specific specialty like construction or insurance law, rather than trying to present themselves as all things to all clients.
  • Finally, because the costs of building a website have fallen so much, they can now have a web presence as credible-looking as that of any large firm without a tremendous investment.

Interestingly, small firms tend to follow the results of their web marketing more closely, because it represents a more significant expense to them than for large firms. That can set up a healthy cycle where attorneys will in significant time posting content on their blogs, which helps them draw more and more web traffic over the long haul.