How Small Law Firms Can Punch Above Their Weight in Brave New ABS World

Posted by Paul Hajek on Wed, Mar 12, 2014 @ 04:38 PM

Small law firms pack a punchLet's begin with a glimpse in to the future ABS landscape for small law firms.

Here is a sneak preview from the opening chapter of my unforthcoming book entitled "Conveyancing Firms: 24 Hours from Tulisa?"

‘Two Tick’ Tulisa, an 18 year old, highly experienced one-to-one, customer-facing conveyancing coordinator with Inter Galactic Estate Agents.com (and author of ‘How to Successfully Tick Your Way Through the Conveyancing Process and Wave Goodbye to Common Sense’) was delighted. The enthusiastic Tulisa, acting upon a hot lead from her punter procurement department, had persuaded first time buyers Mr Poor and Miss Unfortunate (not their real names) to use the conveyancing services provided by their sister company and fledgling ABS Your-Call-is-Important-To-Us.com. Tulisa had shown Mr Poor and Miss Unfortunate the light: their appointed conveyancers were the future of conveyancing.

The ‘future’, as most conveyancing solicitors already know, has been here for some years.

As a conveyancing solicitor for over 30 years, I have dealt with many challenges and threats from the loosening of advertising restrictions in the early 1980s, licensed conveyancers, through to estate agents via HIP providers and panels managers and lenders.

I am resigned to the fact that the past may have only just finished and the future is about to begin all over again.

Everybody’s at it: Even a Bloke with Lorries

The AA and SAGA have been the latest to join to the inexorable rise of big brands achieving ABS status. Even a bloke more famous for his lorries is at it.

Conveyancing competition is getting hotter and this raises important questions about the future for small conveyancing firms and competition.

Will small conveyancing firms (punch-drunk from unfair financial competition and over-bearing compliance and regulation) be relegated to mere spectators as the big conveyancing firms stand toe-to-toe trading blows with ABSs in their bid to reach the next level of critical mass?

Does this mean that the only aspiration for which small conveyancing firms can now strive will be a billing on the undercard of the main boxing match?

Can small conveyancing firms be clever and punch above their weight in the brave new ABS landscape?

The internet has changed client behaviour for good

Put yourself in the shoes or the mindset of a potential client looking to instruct a conveyancing firm.

What would you do; would you ring straight away for a quote?

I would ask around.

My experience is that, increasingly, clients now use the internet to ‘ask around’, to get information about conveyancing services in advance of contacting a law firm – even when the firm has been recommended or, perhaps more importantly, when the conveyancers have been referred.

Leave the paranoia behind

Legal services, including conveyancing, may just be next in line to the technology disruption that every business has been at risk from, as well as the risk of other companies using innovative ways of delivering old services and products. Napoleon Hill commented in his book, Think and Grow Rich: Your Key to Financial Wealth and Power, that ‘of all the ages of civilisation, this is the most favourable for the development of the imagination, because it is an age of rapid change’.1 Napoleon’s book was written in 1937.

‘Online’ will be the new high street

Smaller law firms without a viable internet strategy will find it increasingly difficult to survive and thrive.

‘Online’ will become the new ‘high street’.

Potential clients are looking for more depth and a more detailed understanding of the conveyancing process, what it entails, what to look out for, and any tips and advice before making key decisions and this can all be found online.  To put it another way, clients and potential clients want great legal content to answer their questions and allay their fears or problems.

Promotion of your great legal content is your challenge and the best method is through Social Media.

Social Media is the kindling and bellows to ignite and fan your law firm content fire

Great Legal Content Clients Crave

Clients can ask questions, they can read reviews, digest content (in the form of articles and blogs), start conversations online with people they have never met – and they want to do this when it suits them, at any time of the day or night and weekends.

Law firms who have a static brochure website ( nice graphics and photos ‘though) but no blog would do well to heed another of Napoleon Hill's golden nuggets:

Do not wait – the time will never be ‘just right’. Start where you stand, and better tools will be found along the way

Testimonials

Testimonials can help with law firm differentiation. When was the last time you made a purchase on Amazon without reading at least one review? Law firms, more than ever, need to be able to differentiate from their competitors. However, in my experience, so few law firms bother to include testimonials on their websites or in their marketing.

Google loves testimonials

Google loves testimonials as it sees it as proof positive that a particular company should be given more prominence in search results. It is not easy, as clients are not comfortable with the concept, but asking clients to put a testimonial against your law firm directly into Google would be a great way for instant proof without navigating around your law firm website. Better still, post testimonials on specific profiles around the web (for example, Google+ Local Pages (formerly Google Places) is becoming increasingly influential). Stars next to your website on Google can also add to the social proof potential clients may seek.

Castles and moats

Renowned business magnate and investor Warren Buffet has likened good businesses with ‘castles and moats’. Buffet once said: ‘I look for economic castles protected by unbreachable moats’. An ‘economic castle’ is a great business, and the ‘unbreachable moat’ is the strategy or market dynamic that heightens the barriers-to-entry and makes it difficult or ideally impossible to compete with, or gain access to, the economic castle.

In the internet age, the challenge for law firms and their websites will be how to fend off other law firms and ABSs from gaining traction in their local, regional, or national markets. If you visualise your law firm as a castle comprising your people, your law firm brand, intellectual capital, and your existing clients, your law firm moat will comprise search engine optimisation (key words and phrases strategy), social media, and internet marketing techniques.

Improve potential clients’ buying experience: Help them buy your services

Great content powers up a law firm’s online presence and attracts more potential clients. Used strategically, online content can help defend your law firm ‘castle’.

Content is too precious to be farmed out to third party suppliers.

Be indigenous.

Find the time for it as it will repay dividends in the end.

It would be useful to remember also that many enquirers are more likely to click on an entry with a photo rather than just text. The overall goal is to retain and acquire clients by attracting and educating them with great content.

Think about it. Would a potential client prefer to use a law firm which provides enough high quality content to answer all their questions? Would the fact that such helpful content was available from you, and not from other law firms, not make you the obvious safe and trustworthy choice for conveyancing?

And what about fees?

So few law firms are bold enough to put their fees out in the open for all to see

Many firms may have misguided worries that it is only other law firms who check the fees and would offer £5 less to win the client. 

Others perhaps petrified of offending their Conveyancing Panel Managers.

Is an email request really making it easy for a potential client to get what they want?

An online conveyancing calculator surely is a must? I’ve just updated our Conveyancing Calculator at Clutton Cox.

The whole idea is to start a conversation and begin a relationship.

Client experience audit

A law firm needs to audit every single step of its business processes. You should revisit every single interaction with your clients, and potential clients, and discover how to make the client experience better.

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has an ‘empty chair’ at every meeting with his key staff. The ‘empty chair’ is reserved for their customer so the whole focus of their meetings can concentrate on how the experience of the customer in the empty chair can be improved.

Do as athletes do: Get the best coaches you can afford

To achieve gold and compete with the best takes commitment and hard work. Who can forget Bradley Wiggins last year and Chris Froome this year, both with the help and guidance of their performance director Dave Brailsford and his theory of incremental process improvements (of 1 per cent initially).

Luke Donald, last year’s world’s number one golfer, enlisted the help of Jonny Wilkinson's kicking coach Dave Alred to help with the dynamics of his swing. Luke Donald was the world's number 29 at the time. Ernie Els, the winner of the British Open in 2012, enlisted ‘eye doctor’, Dr Sherylle Calder, to help with the visualisation of his putting. He holed a long putt for a birdie on the 18th to effectively win the championship. It is also no coincidence that both Dave Alred and Sherylle Calder were part of the Clive Woodward's back room staff for England's victorious World Cup Rugby team in 2003.

Success is relative, so smaller firms will have different goals than being purely the ‘number one conveyancing firm in the country by volume or profit’, or whatever metric would satisfy. The important thing is that all firms can identify their goals and improve with outside coaching and technical help.

Brave New World– Same As The Old World

In spite of what still seems, to me, to be an opinion held by too many lawyers, the law is not a different business to which other rules apply.

Law is a people business.

Law firms exist because of the people – the clients they serve.

The way forward for law firms is to embrace the tools that the internet gives us, but at the same time to go back to the old fashioned values of client service which served previous generations so well.

Social media allows us to get closer to our clients, to engender the care and commitment of older generations who built their businesses on old fashioned virtues.

Social media is about humans and communication, and it takes time

Social Media allows us to get closer to our clients as our grandfathers and great grandfathers did with their businesses – on first name terms, knowing their likes and dislikes, and demonstrably showing that we care.

The butcher and the baker who knew all their customers’ backgrounds conversed in real time about what was going on in their lives and gave added value when it was most unexpected.

Law firms need to secure, as one of my own social media heroes Gary Vaynerchuk would say, the emotional equity of their clients.

Clients do not want mere lip service to a so-called ‘quality service’

Law firms, small or large, must make caring more scalable

Do not pass go: Care immensely about your clients or face failure

The cornerstones of what law firm businesses stood for in the past and what made them successful are probably more crucial in the ABS and digital age than ever before.

It is worth reiterating:

 You need to care about your clients. Build your law firm ethos, and its brand around ‘out caring’ everyone else.

If you do not care about your clients immensely, your law firm will ultimately die out sooner or later.

Reaching out and listening to clients has never been easier than now in the digital age, and the traditional means of telephone or in-person contact have never, and will never, go out of fashion or relevance.

Client acquisition and retention

Client acquisition is important, but client retention is key. Firms can often pay too much heed to client acquisition. Many law firms have been pretty useless in keeping in touch with or clients. Yet, if we keep them happy and loyal it is possible to ring fence against the marauding ABSs.

Death by silent cuts

The danger for many small firms of conveyancing solicitors is that the phone may just abruptly stop. The opportunity to give a conveyancing quote may suddenly disappear. The conveyancing buying experience may have already taken place elsewhere – at the estate agent office, the bank, the Co-op till (so they say) or, increasingly, on the internet. If small law firms fail to adapt to the new shift in buying patterns then those firms risk a slow death by silent cuts.

And the good news

The good news, however, is that, for most firms, we still remain ahead of the game for now.

Darwin supposedly once said that it is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.

The conveyancing landscape may yet be dominated by ABSs and large conveyancing factories, but the internet is a great enabler for small law firms who are able to compete on a level playing field with the bigger law firms.

Innovative legal services can be quicker to market and can be viewed by a greater audience.

The internet is a true meritocracy where great content (and blogging is a great example) will attract a new audience for law firms.

Great content designed, as marketers would say, with your specific ‘client personas’ in mind is an important means of standing out – think context as well as content.

I have always use my own experience of blogging as reasons why solicitors should blog. Blogging is a wonderful marketing tool as part of an overall content strategy and those solicitors who embrace it can catapult their law firm into previously unchartered waters: more new clients as well as retention of existing clients and unpaid for referrals direct to your law firm website.

Small law firms can still choose to adapt and fight the challenge head on from the bigger conveyancing firms and ABSs, and they have their destiny in their own hands. It is, however, too risky a strategy to just rely upon your pool of existing clients and the fickleness of estate agents and conveyancing panels.

Seconds Out

Any small conveyancing firm with the right strategy and commitment to improve and innovate need not fear the world of ABSs and Two Tick Tulisa’s employers.

Small law firms must be prepared to turn their law firms into media outlets for great legal content.

And above all else must ‘out care’ the Co-op, Saga, AA and that bloke with the lorries.

Gum Shield: Gloves:Seconds Out: Ding Ding

Bring It On

Paul Hajek

A version of this post provides a Chapter in the Solicitors Journal publication “Residential Property Practice: An Expert Guide” priced £39.95

 

Topics: content marketing for law firms, content marketing for lawyers, high street law firms, social media for law firms, small law firm survival, ABS

Law Firms: “Be Bloody Bold and Resolute” in 2014

Posted by Paul Hajek on Thu, Jan 09, 2014 @ 09:19 AM

Be Bloody Bold and resoluteLists: I love them.

I had fun compiling New Years Resolutions for Law Firms last year and am thrilled to do so again for 2014.

Personal recommendation for lawyers and word of mouth reputation are still the cornerstone for successful law firms. But, increasingly clients and potential clients are inexorably moving towards the internet where they can get a flavour and judge for themselves the “cut of our legal jibs”

I kid you not: algorithms are already determining the percentage chances of successful litigation, yet the flat-earth branch of the profession still denies the internet is having an effect or will have an effect on their law firms. So good luck with that one.

There has been a splurge of new lawyers and law firms with an internet and social media presence. Inbound marketing continues to grow rapidly but inbound marketing for law firms is still nascent.

Social Media for lawyers is no longer a minority past time, as more and more lawyers dip their toes in – although to be fair some less subtle law firms are stomping around with hobnail boots on.

As I exalt in the freedom of by-gone worries of splitting my infinitives, let me be one of the first lawyers, to boldly go on a trek through the internet marketing and social media universe, and give you my list of self proclaimed aphorisms, pointers and tips sprinkled a few bon mots and links to people I enjoyed connecting with in 2013.

The following legal musings are in a handy bite-sized chunk format.

Law Firm Management

  • Get closer to your clients. It’s not new but unless you care immensely more for your clients your competitor law firms and ABSs will do it for you.
  • Audit the whole experience of working with your law firm through the eyes of your clients. Yes, we can all improve
  • Banish the “C” word – Commoditisation. It’s a sackable offence in my law firm.
  • Avoid the race to the bottom on legal fees especially Conveyancing.
  • Learn more about the art and science of Pricing your Law Firm services
  • Sign up and follow the advice of Richard Burcher at Validatum or Kim Tasso on pricing for professionals 
  • Write a “Thank You “ note to each week to a client or contact who won’t be expecting it
  • Promise yourself you will cure your law firm myopia by working  more “on” your business rather than just in “it”
  • Demote the excuse “I am too busy” to market my firm: work smarter and/or put your fees up
  • Give all your staff company encrusted road haulage trucks like Eddie Stobart does.
  • Exceed expectation – get on board for destination Wow
  • Sign up for Joe Reevy’s newsletter. Gems and Golden Nuggets of common sense advice guaranteed
  • Read my blog: Circle the Wagons and Come Out All Guns Blazing
  • Hit the Road, Jack – speak and visit other law firms, talk learn, and share: protect our solicitor brand. I’ve travelled to meet some great solicitors this year to “chew the legal cud”
  • Reduce reliance on third party paid referrals
  • Read my blog: Match Point: What More Could Your Law Firm Achieve?
  • Remember client retention is much cheaper than client acquisition

 Internet and Inbound Marketing for Law Firms

  • No one really cares about your law firm website – get over it
  • Mens sana in corpore sano - a fit mind in a fit body..and that includes working out personally and with and on your law firm website
  • Invest in marketing technology such as Hubspot to help run your firm effortlessly 24/7/365
  • Talk to me about Hubspot – I’m evangelical
  • Repeat the mantra “My law firm will get found online and we will convert leads into clients”
  • I said repeat it
  • Start an E-Newsletter or improve on an existing newsletter.
  • Evaluate your own law firm website with fresh eyes: overhaul the home page at the very least if it doesn’t cut the mustard
  • Consumers complete 60% of their buying decisions before talking to a sales rep – work out how that will impact your online law firm strategy
  • Read my blog: Get the Love –Inbound Marketing is the Future
  • Sign up with Boyd Butler at Great Legal Marketing and learn to think differently.
  • Read my blog: Are You Investing in Chinese Fishing Nets?
  • Get proof of how good you are – get testimonials from satisfied clients and keep asking those clients to refer new work to your firm
  • Marketing your law firm is an endless tour – don’t let yourselves be bowled out in 31.4 overs like the England Cricket team in the last Test Match in Australia:concentrate and be bold.

 Blogging for Lawyers

  • Look to build a blog not launch one
  • Work out an antidote for any “Lexblogophobia” in your firm.
  • Find a blogging champion within your firm but never force anyone –it will show.
  • Make it easier for potential clients to discover what you’re bloody at –create great content 
  • Increase your blogging and content output by 50% over the next twelve months
  • Write 2 blogs a week for your website –that will increase your law firm website by 100 over a year. Powerful
  • Start your blog editorial now and round of the year with your first eBook
  • Make sure you write that eBook (If you have a 100 new blogs next year that should more than cover it!)
  • Sign up and follow the blog of Irish Solicitor Flor McCarthy from Clonakilty County Cork – and be enchanted.
  • Find your niche Create great legal content and become “the go-to lawyer or firm” like I have done with Chancel Repair Liability
  • Never post a blog without a thumbnail image and an alt tag. Images add power.
  • Mix and Match your blog article lengths and be sure to do an in depth blog at least once a month. Google likes in depth content - it’s official
  • Sign up to the Solicitors Online Success blog below and never miss an article again
  • Your law firm is now a media publishing business embrace it and excel.
  • Educate your clients and help them learn about the legal process as it affects them
  • Ask your staff to name the 10 most common questions asked daily and create your first 10 blogs or another 10 blogs if you’re already up and running.
  • Learn to multi-task and think, write and construct blogs – Watch Monday Night Football and Blog; Watch Rugby and Blog; Watch Breaking Bad and on second thoughts..

 Content Marketing for Law Firms

  • Cut the Crap (1) avoid bombastic, turgid and orotund blog posts and content
  • Cut the Crap (2) No more inane tweets informing the Twittersphere that you are available for a quote for conveyancing, a divorce or a Will. Yuk!
  • Download Crap: The Content Marketing Deluge by Velocity Partners and follow @dougkessler its creative director to see what fantastic content looks like –be inspired
  • Veni Vidi Video –especially the last one and don’t be so precious and eschew the library books at the back
  • Don’t fear your law firm’s content management system – learn a bit of code and feel more in control.
  • Ensure every page of your law firm website has a sufficient Call to Action – or stand on the naughty step
  • Make your content shareable and sociable, allow people to easily follow you and share your content

 Social Media for Solicitors and Lawyers

  • Treasure your invite to the world’s largest cocktail party that is Twitter
  • Understand that Twitter is primarily a listening medium
  • Read the “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” by Gary Vaynerchuk and learn how to tell your story in a noisy social world.
  • Consider other social media not just the usual suspects such as Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and Slideshare and Prezzi and Uberflip could help your practice but:
  • Don’t try and do every “social media” stick to what you think will work best
  • Perfect your blogging style over time – don’t rush ( please don’t hold any of my original blogs back in 2008 against me)
  • Exit a group on LinkedIn which no longer inspires you
  • Join a new group on LinkedIn which may inspire you and join in the discussions

 SEO for Law Firms

  • Don’t get fixated and hung up with SEO, but do concentrate on creating great content. You’re writing for humans not robots!
  • Think twice and then thrice again before instructing a so called SEO expert sign up to Moz to find out what SEO is really all about.

Law Firms and Google+

  • Google+ will grow in importance and influence search results. Google+ is here for the long haul
  • Inhabit Google+ and work out how it can benefit your clients and staff
  • Claim your content with Google Authorship markup and if you are lucky Google will post your photo next to your blog like here

Which, if any, Were Advertising Slogans Used by Alternative Business Structures in 2013?

  • Feeling Flat?: Let Our Legal Team Put the Wind Back In Your Tyres
  • It’s not just car breakdowns we cover but also marital breakdowns.
  • Free Marital Breakdown Cover When You Sign Up for Roadside Breakdown Cover
  • Free Roadside Breakdown Cover When You Sign Up To Marital Breakdown Cover
  • Your tyres may have let you down but our legal services team won’t
  • Wills While You Wait………. For Our Van To Arrive
  • Injured in a car accident in the last three years? ( That one may have been overplayed a bit now, admittedly)
  • We’d like you to turn all your legal problems into a Saga
  • We can’t run a Bank but boy oh boy do we know how to run a law firm
  • The highways jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive - but not our Truck Stop Lawyers, Eh Eddie?

Extract from my Unforthcoming  Book on Conveyancing

‘Two Tick’ Tulisa, an 18 year old, highly experienced one-to-one, customer-facing conveyancing coordinator with Inter Galactic Estate Agents.com (and author of ‘How to Successfully Tick Your Way Through the Conveyancing Process and Wave Goodbye to Common Sense’) was delighted.

The enthusiastic Tulisa, acting upon a hot lead from her punter procurement department, had persuaded first time buyers Mr Poor and Miss Unfortunate (not their real names) to use the conveyancing services provided by their sister company and fledgling ABS Your-Call-is-Important-To-Us.com.

For you see, Tulisa had shown Mr Poor and Miss Unfortunate the light: their appointed lawyers were the future of conveyancing.

Apropos Nothing

  • So you’re in a lift/elevator- tell me what you do in 29.9 seconds or thereabouts
  • Only talk to passionate and enthusiastic people in said lifts/elevators
  • Avoid temptation to utter whilst in said lift/elevator “I’m ready to take this baby to the next level are you?”
  • Shun Mr. Mrs and Ms Negative and all their family and relatives and all their close personal friends
  • Look forward ( if rumours are to be believed) to joyous wincing at Saul Goodman the outrageously corrupt, ghastly and appalling attorney from Breaking Bad in his new eponymous series
  • Have an inflatable “scales of justice” proudly above your office – only joking –see above
  • Avoid TV adverts for your law firm  – and I’m not just talking about Call Saul
  • Create your own three word aphorism for ABS – never harms to amuse oneself 

Macbeth

Above all else avoid complacency in your law firms.

“Be bloody bold and resolute; laugh to scorn the power of man, for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth

After all it’s what did for poor old Macbeth in the end.

And finally..

A Happy, Content Enriched and Wonderfully Prosperous New Year to you.

Topics: content marketing for law firms, content marketing for lawyers, online marketing for law firms, inbound marketing for law firms, blogging for lawyers, blogging for solicitors, blogging for law firms, solicitors online success, social media for law firms, ABS, internet marketing for law firms, law firm marketing, Alternative Business structures, marketing for solicitors, twitter for law firms, Internet marketing

The New Legal Eagle Has Landed: One Small Step

Posted by Paul Hajek on Wed, Oct 05, 2011 @ 04:08 AM
[caption id="attachment_396" align="alignright" width="220" caption="The New Legal Eagle Has Landed"][/caption]



The first batch of Alternative Business Structures will be upon us tomorrow. Rumour has it 100 or so will authorised via the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.



This could be the dawning of the Age of Aquire-us (ouch! apologies to Fifth Dimension).



Officially, outside investors will be available to invest in legal services: truth is it has been happening for a while via the Co op, Optima and others.



What we will see is acceleration in not only mergers of law firms (mine included) but also acceleration in access to legal services, primarily via the internet.



New Technologies in the Legal Market Place:



We need only look over to the US to see what may be coming our way as the internet is set to revolutionise how clients source legal information and interact and instruct law firms.



Google Ventures has pumped in $18 million into the fastest growing online legal service in the US called Rocket Lawyer.



Rocket Lawyer provides legal forms which can be completed on line free or for a fee and can also not only be reviewed by a lawyer but the document can also be stored on line.



For a monthly fee subscribers can also “have access to free document reviews from local attorneys, and deeply discounted rates on legal fees for more complicated legal services



What are being marketed on their website are the softer benefits such as ease of use and peace of mind. As its web site strap line notes “Finally Easy and Affordable Legal Help”



And if you want a word to describe what the future has in store over here post ABS try "disruptive" for size. A press release for Rocket Lawyer reveals:



“As a former attorney and venture capitalist, the value proposition for small business owners and individuals is truly outstanding and very disruptive, as Rocket Lawyer drives down costs to benefit both the consumer and the local attorney.”



If you look behind the jargon you have direct access to what consumers (who may be come clients) really want:-



“We see a large market opportunity for legal solutions that are easily accessible and affordable to users…….Rocket Lawyer’s combination of an intuitive user-driven front-end with a strong technology-based platform uniquely positions the company to scale and deliver the type of ‘wow’ user experience that online customers love.”



There you have one vision of the future– legal information simply delivered, but also perhaps reassuringly a desire to use a local law firm as well.



Will It Happen in the UK?



Yes, of course. It may take a little while to gain a foothold but once legal services are deconstructed (even by solicitors themselves) there will be less attention paid to words like “quality”, which is taken as a given in my opinion and more to accessibility, ease and affordability.



What does this mean for the sole Practitioner and Small Law Firm?



The answer may be simple but requires huge intellectual capital.



Your mantra must be get closer to your clients, let them know what you do and how you help and solve their problems. Spread the word spread your message demonstrate your ability as a solicitor and a law firm.



Communication above all else will be vital. Communication with clients via email has a very low cost base.



The internet and internet marketing will be your friend. The internet can level the playing field.



There are already tools at your disposal.



You can already offer online document production ( and the sooner e.g. DirectLaw offers a pay as you go service the uptake amongst law firms will increase exponentially- are you listening?)



You can already offer SMS texts to clients to update them and provide an online record of key events in their matter.



You can already demonstrate your legal prowess via blogging



You can already get closer to clients and potential clients via social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook



And you can provide fixed fee calculators and fixed fee guarantees with no hidden extras for legal services and invite potential clients to instruct you online without any further interaction.



At my law firm Clutton Cox all this happens daily, weekly and monthly: routinely.



There is a tremendous opportunity for law firms to reinvent themselves and realign their legal services with what clients really want.



But, if law firms are slow to react, other non lawyers are waiting in the wings to fill that void.



For those law firms it may not be the last time you hear the word “disruptive” in a legal services context.



Solicitors Marketing Success provides advice to sole practitioners and small law firms on how to use the internet to market effectively their law firms from creation of websites, email marketing, blogging and social media.



If you have not done so already sign up on the right hand side of this page to receive our regular free blogs on how you law firm can get found online and convert potential clients into actual clients

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Topics: ABS, blog, small law firms, Google Ventures, DirectLaw, Rocket Lawyer

If TescoLaw wins will the last lawyer to leave Britain please turn out the lights

Posted by Paul Hajek on Thu, May 19, 2011 @ 08:50 AM

TescoLawIf Tesco Law wins will the last lawyer to leave Britain please turn out the lights"

So ran the  sandwich man advert in the Gazette by Quality Solicitors (other legal brands are available)

The sandwich man on the reverse read “The end of the world is nigh: Legal Services Act 2007”The issue is disturbing and ABSs will be a matter of fact by the end of the year.

I, like you, am a solicitor. I have run a High Street practice, Clutton Cox, in Chipping Sodbury for over 26 years. I employ 1 full time and have 2 part time consultant Solicitors.

At Clutton Cox we undertake Conveyancing Wills and Probate.

In the past marketing, such as it was, was traditional; local advertising; networking and sponsorship, so called outbound marketing

Recession and the Threat of ABSs

2008 was truly an Annus Horibilis.

We, Solicitors, looked down the barrel of an uncertain future. A perfect storm of recession and the threat of Alternative Business Structures were looming.

As Al Pacino would say “Whad Ya Gotta Do?”   

The Solution: The Internet

Well, I had to do something!

I noticed things were happening on the Internet.

I found I was researching the internet before I made a purchase or decided to go somewhere new on holiday.

I was using the internet for educational purposes and was able to compare like with like.

I was being empowered by the Internet in all sorts of ways

I was receiving emails which I had actually requested (there will always be junk as well)

This is where legal services were surely heading as well, and I wanted to be a part of it.

Next, I dived headlong into the wonderful and hitherto unknown world of the internet and in particular Internet Marketing.

I read, listened, watched everything I could about how to market a successful practice on the Internet. I gorged content and knowledge

I enlisted on websites, took consultancy from Internet Marketing Gurus and Marketing Experts.

The recession gave me the time to work on my practice rather than just in it.

What evolved, has taken me and my personal and law firm to the cutting edge of internet marketing.

The Clutton Cox website:

Before Google (or the other internet search engines) can refer potential clients to you, you need a website.

Clutton Cox had a website since 2000.

I knew I needed one back then, (other firms were boasting about their senior partners’ equestrian pursuits) but I really didn’t know what to do with it.

It was a classic, static, brochure site.

I needed to renew my website and begin afresh.

I commissioned a local Website design company to revamp the Clutton Cox website. The new site went live on 1st March 2009.

My rank in the world (yes, you can find out such information) was about 30 millionth-room for improvement.

No doubt that may have improved slightly over time, but what I discovered very quickly was that a website is merely the start and there is no end.

What I Needed to Do to Improve the Clutton Cox Website

My website would form the HUB of all my marketing efforts, both on and offline.

My website would become a dynamic tool to attract existing and potentially new clients.

My mission was to get found by Google, by creating quality content

Google loves content new and refreshed. The new world is now governed by the maxim “CONTENT IS KING”

The internet has subtly changed the rules of marketing so that it is not now so much- who you know, but more, what people know about you.

3 Steps

My goals were to;

• CREATE 
Remarkable Content

• OPTIMISE 
content for search engines (SEO) and other audiences

• PROMOTE 
remarkable content in social media, e-mail marketing and other channels

SEO-Search Engine Optimisation

You will not get far into internet Marketing without encountering the term SEO or SEM- Search Engine Optimisation and Marketing.

Google (and other search engines such as BING and YAHOO) looks for relevance when it trawls websites for answers to questions that people type in to its search engine.

If your content is optimised for keywords and locality e.g. “Conveyancing   solicitor in Chipping Sodbury” you will have a much better chance of being referred by Google and should achieve a high ranking on the first page.

It is not a complicated process but one that does take time and effort.

Google is particularly keen to get local relevance. You can put your site forward for free to Google Places (formerly Google Local).

Organic or Paid Links

The so called organic links are the ones you find on the left hand side of the page, normally underneath a couple of paid links. Other paid links are shown on the right hand side.

If you want to know how Google makes its money it is though these paid links. There are no set fees, but each keyword or phrase is paid for by in effect on online auction. This can vary from say £4 for “Conveyancing” to £35-45 for a term such MESOTHELMIA, which PI lawyers pay hugely for because of the likely fees earned in any settlement of a claim.

I have not gone down the paid link or Adwords route as it is called until fairly recently.


I produced enough remarkable content to vie for high spots on the organic left hand side of the page.

Adwords can be very expensive, if you do not know what you are doing, as you will pay for any click through to your website. It is possible to limit your expenditure by putting a cap on your monthly expenditure.

Google Analytics

I ensured that my new site had the codes included from Google Analytics. This is another powerful and free tool from Google.

It allowed me to check how many people had visited my site, which were the most popular pages and which page they exited on.

Blogging:  Why you need to start straight away

I have mentioned before that moving up the rankings on Google takes time.

The quickest route to success is by way of a blog, or web log for its longer name.

By creating blogs on your areas of specialisms, using keywords and phrases you will be found a lot sooner by Google.

There will be little activity when you first start. If Google finds you within one or two months you will be doing well. Once found Google will revisit your website more regularly. Google now visits the Clutton Cox site every 2-3 days.

The more content I add the more frequently Google’s robots crawl my site.

I started blogging in October 2008.

I try to blog every 3-4 days or 8 times a month, sometimes more sometimes fewer.

I have now over 250 blogs posted on the internet

I blogged on everything that interested me:

• Conveyancing

• Wills and Probate

• Estate Agency

• The Housing Market

• The Mortgage Market

• HIPs (as they were)

• Landlord and Tenant

You will also demonstrate to your existing and potential clients your area of expertise.

Every blog post you make is another page added to your website, so your basic site can grow very quickly.

I also sent internal links to other parts of my website for other keywords or phrases

Every link to my website by other websites is a vote for your website in Google’s eyes.

Clutton Cox Website Success

These links plus size of your site comprise your Google PageRanking score on a scale of 1-10 . The BBC is a 9.

Clutton Cox soared to a Page Rank 4 for its home page within 7 months-higher than most city firms

Getting links from high ranking sites gives you more kudos in Google’s eyes. It is better to have 1 link from a high ranking site than many links from low ranking sites.

Currently, I have about 650 pages indexed by Google with about 2440 across the whole site.

Clutton Cox is currently in the top 6% of websites in the world

Traffic to my website increased from just over 5,000 visitors in 2009 to almost 11500 in 2010, with an incredible 28,000 pages read.

My property blogs were runner up in the prestigious PrimeLocation blog awards for 2009.

I was the Conveyancing Expert Blogger for Yell.com

I won the 360 Legal Group Most Effective Social Networker Award for 2010

I have been interviewed on local radio, and interviewed by the Wall Street Journal.

My published articles on the state of the Housing Market have been picked up by Reuters

I have over 1050 followers on Twitter.

Bringing It All Together

If you are ever asked to show a return on your investment (ROI) I thought I would conclude with an example of how it is working for me and should be working for you.

I posted a Conveyancing blog on a Friday evening at 5pm entitled “Conveyancing in Yate” 10 Things You Need to Know if You Are Moving Home”

Yate is a town a mile away from me in Chipping Sodbury and dominated by corporate Estate Agents from whom we get no business.

I checked on Monday morning first thing, and typed into Google “Conveyancing in Yate”. My blog had been indexed by Google over the weekend and sat proudly at No. 5 in the organic left hand side list.

Later that morning, I had an email from my website from a new client who had instructed me to do his Conveyancing online.

I telephoned the client and asked what had led him to choose us.

He lived about 10 miles away but had found our website through Google. He had read my blog on Conveyancing in Yate and was taken by my local knowledge.

I only had to thank him for his instruction. He had all the information he needed to make his choice. We had been preselected.

Google had referred him to us.

As we Lawyers are prone to write QED or say “Quod erat Demonstrandum”

The Advent of Alternative Business Structures

ABSs will be upon us in October 2011. There is no going back.

In my humble opinion (IMHO in Twitter speak), any small firm with up to 10 partners, without an internet marketing strategy will be vulnerable to the encircling ABS vultures.

But, if law firms grasp the opportunity, their practices can survive and continue to thrive.

Success with Internet Marketing is purely optional.

I know as Solicitors we face demands on our time which in bigger firms can be more easily delegated.

Every solicitor is guilty of spending too much time in their business rather than on their business.

You will need to spend time (an hour or two) during the evening or at a weekend in mastering the techniques and opportunities afforded by Internet Marketing.

But, as I have proved with my own practice the Internet can restore your ability to compete on a level playing field.

What you do best as solicitors is to advise and educate your clients.

Why not bundle what you do into products that can be available 24/7 via your website.

Create a website which is rich in content:

• Blogs

• Legal News

• Recent case law

• Videos

• Photos

• Webinars

• Presentations

• In person events

• Podcasts

• Press releases

• Whitepapers and e-books on your specialities

• Kits

• Links to social media

The time is now.

You can no longer bury your head in the sand nor say “I don’t need a website” or “I just don’t have the time”;

If you feel you do not have time, try a distance learning course in your own time (but don’t hang about!), or buy off the shelf solutions to some of your internet marketing problems

If you do not have time within your working day, then read and work at home in the evening, listen to CDs or MP3 recordings in your car or on the train on the way home

I put together a company called Solicitors Marketing Success, with Ed Rivis, one of the UK’s best known Internet Marketers, which is now run just by me and known as Paul Hajek’s Solicitors’ Online Success.

It was the only website run by a practicing solicitor and an internet marketing guru which is dedicated to providing you with all your needs and wants in the new digital marketing age.

We can provide you with scalable solutions to all your internet marketing needs and requirements. What we don’t know or can do ourselves we will engage other experts to provide you with what you need

Your practice needs revolution not evolution.

In Darwin’s Origin of the Species, he concludes that “It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change”

Are you up for the challenge of change?

Topics: internet marketing for solicitors, solicitors online success, small law firm survival, ABS, Alternative Business structures, high street solicitors