The Best Law Firm Website is…

Did you take a look at the Top 100 Law Firm Websites? What did you think? Did any stand out to you as class-leadings sites?

For me there was one that did… and I’ll tell you which one in a moment… But first, those that have it wrong, the honourable mentions, and why.

So you say you’re client focussed, huh?

The problem with most of the websites we looked at, probably as much as 95% of them, is that they are just not client focussed. The majority start with a pitch about themselves. They typically say they are innovative, experts in their field, and client focussed. But if they are client focussed, why doesn’t the website illustrate that?

Solicitors tell me all the time that their job is to solve client’s problems. So assuming I am a client coming to your website for the first time, how can I easily map my problem onto the services you offer?  Most websites we looked at structured their content based on the practice areas of the firm. But guess what? Clients don’t care about the internal organisation of law firms, and it’s no good hoping they will learn. Instead think about how you can present your business in the way that clients think. Make easy access to answers your top priority.

Honourable mentions

Mischon de Reya has a minimalist home page with a Google-style search box front and centre.

MIschon de Reya

Client focussed? Yes. Helping me map my problems to solutions? Not a bad start… We tried a few search terms and came up trumps two thirds of the time.

Russell Jones & Walker have gone for a best of both worlds approach – a similar search box takes priority, with practice areas on the right.

Russell Jones & Walker website

Sadly the search didn’t quite hit the spot when we tried it. It seemed to prioritise news stories over explaining how Russell Jones & Walker could help solve my problem. Nevertheless, they deserve an honourable mention for avoiding all the usual home page trumpet blowing, focussing on the client and providing the Expert Guide PDF downloads shown on the right of the screenshot.

And the winner is…

The CubeSocial Law Firm Website of 2010 award goes to Browne Jacobson for putting clients right at the heart of the website, providing simple clear navigation based on the client’s need and using the client’s language rather than internal law firm boundaries to structure content. Go on, click through to the Browne Jacobson website and have a look. Not only is it very functional, it’s also beautifully designed and interactive. Congratulations to all involved.

Browne Jacobson website

Don’t agree with us? Think your firm’s website is better? Leave a comment below and let us know why.

Top 100 Law Firm Websites In Pictures

When Craig Holt of Quality Solicitors was recently quoted saying all Law Firm websites were the same, we thought we would put his thesis to the test. We decided to take a look at the websites of the Top 100 UK law firms and see who stood out from the crowd. 

So here they are…

Just looking at the homepages, for me, there is one website that stands head and shoulders above the rest. Can you spot the one I am thinking of? Are there any that you would commend or decry?

I’ll post up my thoughts on the stand-out sites and my reasons tomorrow. Meanwhile leave a comment below…

Update: See our verdict on the top Top Law Firm Websites

Startup Tips from BizSpark Summit 2010

We were at the Microsoft London office yesterday for the 2010 BizSpark summit – BizSpark being Microsoft’s startup accelerator programme.

Keynote speakers were Loic Le Meur, founder of Seesmic, and Alistair Mitchell, CEO of Huddle. (Loic was there with his camera, and if you look carefully at the pictures, you can find both Linda and I on this picture from his blog)

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Startup Tips

There were some key themes in the keynotes from those who had been there and done that…

  • Explain your idea succinctly. If you can’t explain the problem you are trying to solve and the solution in a couple of sentences, it’s too complicated. Go back to Start and try again.
  • Focus on execution. If you have a good idea it’s probably already been built, or already being built. Everyone is potentially your competitor. Just execute better than anyone else.
  • Get something out there early and iterate. Get a user base of 50 or so users, ask them how to improve.
  • Get user feedback (use GetSatisfaction or UserVoice) and keep improving.
  • Be Agile: If your business model isn’t working be prepared to change on the fly to one that is. Loic explained how Seesmic bought the Twhirl Twitter client in an attempt to drive traffic to the Seesmic video sharing website. When Seesmic usage stalled at about 100,000 users, but Twhirl usage continued to grow, they decided to do an about face and refocus the business on social media apps.
  • Don’t take Angel investment: at least not from professional angel investors. They want too much of your business and place too many constraints on an early stage startup. Instead self-fund as much as you can and if you need more cash look to friends and family.
  • Company valuation: Your company valuation is about 8x the funding you think you require! We’re talking VC funding here, not Angel. Reasoning: Work out the funding you want, then double it to account for unknowns and give you a buffer. VC will typically want about 25% of the equity, so multiply by 4 to get company valuation Winking smile

Did I miss anything? Any other key tips to share?

Law Firm Branding: Can you serve all markets from a single brand?

Brands

A thought occurred to me the other day: Assuming the Susskind vision of the future is true, can law firms continue to serve all their clients from a single brand? In most other sectors, companies use brands to target a specific market segment.

  • RBS have the Direct Line, Churchill and Privilige insurance brands.
  • Intercontinental hotel group have Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express.
  • In food retailing, many companies have a healthy eating brand, a ‘value’ brand, a mainstream brand and a luxury brand.

If more legal work becomes productised or commoditised and so becomes a ‘value’ based purchase, what impact does that have on your brand and your corporate and prestige clients’ expectations of cost?

It seems to me that the problem with trying to be all things to everyone, is you end up not standing for anything at all.

That’s one reason why Access Legal from Shoosmiths is so interesting: An attempt to create a brand for a specific market segment, but still keeping the parent brand to suggest quality and years of legal expertise.

Are Shoosmiths the only ones doing this? Are there any other law firms out there doing the same?

I’d be interested to know your thoughts. Let me know in the comments below…

Referral Opportunities Between Solicitors, IFAs and Accountants

JP Morgan has published a briefing paper on opportunities for closer links between Solicitors, IFAs and Accountants in a post-ABS world.  There’s a whole bunch of stats and charts like this one, a few nice marketing and cross-selling tips and some interesting findings on Solicitors’ attitudes to ABS-based multi-disciplinary practices.

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You can download the full report from the JP Morgan website.

Office Communicator 14 to become Microsoft Lync?

imageInteresting gossip from Mary Jo Foley overnight… It would seem that with the Wave 14 release of Office Communications Server and Office Communicator will bring some name and product changes. Mary Jo deduces that Live Meeting and Office Communicator are merging into a new product called Microsoft Lync that will provide a unified IM, VOIP, desktop sharing and web conferencing interface. For web conference attendees there seems to be a free-to-download Lync Attendee 2010 application already available on the Mirosoft download center.

It certainly seems some announcements are imminent as activity on the Communications Server blog has picked up recently. I look forward to hearing the details…