Lawyers in India have either ignored or are not prepared for the digital world. While almost everyone is online personally, their practices aren’t. The few lawyers and firms who do have websites, have mostly failed to capitalize on the opportunities that the internet presents. If you have been looking for reasons why you should get a website for your practice, here are 7 that should help you convince yourself and your colleagues.
1. India is online and so are its litigants and businessmen
When was the last time you didn’t Google something when you needed some information – about a product, a service or a professional? It’s hard to remember. But isn’t it different when it comes to legal issues and lawyers? Are people really going online to find lawyers?
Let’s look at some of the numbers:
Every month, Google receives 1300 searches from India for the phrase “law firms in Delhi”. When we expand the data to include the whole world, this number goes up to 1900 searches per month. For “divorce lawyer”, there are 240 monthly searches every month from the Delhi NCR region. Further research revealed the number of monthly searches from Delhi as 340 for “criminal lawyer”, 200 for “immigration lawyer”, 170 for “injury lawyer”, 210 for “accident lawyer”, 80 for “property lawyer”, 70 for “Canada immigration lawyer”, 50 for “business lawyer” and 100 for “employment lawyer”.
What do these numbers tell us? Just one simple thing: people are looking for lawyers online – not everyone – but quite a few. And with the proliferation of broadband and mobile internet, this number is only going to grow.
Run a search for any of these terms and see what comes up? Is there any chance that some of these 1500+ people looking for a lawyer in Delhi are going to find some information about you? If the answer is no, a website is your first step towards turning it into a yes.
2. It doesn’t cost much to get one
In fact, you can get one for free. WordPress.com and Google Sites are two of the best services to set up a free website online. However, you will not get your custom yourname.com domain and hence, it is always a better idea to get your own personalized domain and host your website there.
I have been using GoDaddy to register all my domains and to host all my websites, including this one. It costs 600/year for one domain name and hosting plans start from Rs. 125/month. This also includes custom email addresses and email hosting. With little research, you can find much cheaper services but I would advice going with a reliable company as you do not want your website being unavailable frequently due to a shoddy service provider.
3. Its easy to set up
If you are not technologically challenged, you can create a GoDaddy account, buy a domain name and hosting, install WordPress as the platform to run your website (GoDaddy and several others offer a one click installation of WordPress), pick a theme (the look and feel of the website) and have it up and running within 30 minutes. Yes – it doesn’t take more than that to set up a basic website.
However, it is always a good idea to have a professional set up the website and customize the layout and design to make it consistent with your stationery, name plate and any other branding materials that you may have.
While WordPress is not the only platform for a website, I find it very easy and stable to use. You can create new pages, publish new articles and edit the existing content yourself and will not have to run to the IT guy every time you need to make a small change; and its perfect for solo practitioners as well as a firm with hundreds of lawyers.
4. It gives you a platform to establish yourself as a thought leader
The easy part got over with creating the website. No website, without the right content, is going to do you any good. While a professional look and a neat design are important, nothing is more important than writing great content.
You need to identify a few (two if you are feeling adventurous, otherwise just one unless you are a law firm) areas you would like to focus on and make sure that your website becomes a go-to resource for anyone looking to get information about a particular topic. It won’t be easy but it won’t be impossible either.
The good thing is – there are only two law blogs in India which can be called “authoritative” in their true sense: SpicyIP and Corplaw Blog. (Please suggest any other blogs that I have missed in comments and I will be happy to include them after a review). This means – all other areas of law are wide open for you and you could very well be the next most known name on a particular type of legal issues.
Try looking at emerging areas of law where the law has not been very clearly interpreted by Courts yet. Jeremy Bentham, the guy who tormented many of us in Sociology and Jurisprudence classes in law school, famously noted, “the power of the lawyer is in the uncertainty of the law” – and its your time to grab that power and make good use of it.
5. It allows you to provide guidance to people who are in the pre-retention phase of their legal problem
Remember looking up the symptoms online the last time you had a fever or a toothache before you visited the doctor. With the Internet on our fingertips, we have access to more information than Einstein ever had. Be it a product we want to buy, a restaurant we want to go to or a car we are looking to buy, we tend to run a quick search and read about it before making a decision. And there is no reason to believe that people aren’t doing the same with legal issues.
Let’s look at the graph below:
That’s the number of people searching for trademark registration process and trademark attorneys/lawyers across Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore every month. As we can see, far too many are interested in knowing the registration process than finding a lawyer.
If you are a trademark lawyer, you want to engage the 4000 odd people when they are seeking information on the trademark filing process. Your article should not only informative, it should create a certain level of confidence in your ability to get it executed if the person decides to contact your eventually through your website. And this idea is applicable across the board – no matter what legal issue your prospective clients are researching.
If they derive the basic knowledge from an article you wrote, they are more likely to contact you when they finally decide to seek legal help. The process will take time, but you will certainly see a rise in the number of inquiries you receive.
6. Works as your 24×7 virtual office
A website provides you with an avenue to offer a 24×7 avenue for client engagement. A lot of times, clients are looking to seek information about your practice area, the kind of work you do and the ways in which you can help them with their legal issues. They also want to understand if your practice is good fit for their needs. A professional website works as your reception desk that is open all the time.
By including your website URL on your letterheads, your business cards and other stationery, you can lead people to your website where they can find all this information at their convenience – no need to schedule a phone call or an appointment, no need to dress up for an introductory meeting, no need to worry if you are missing out on leads because you cannot be possibly present at your office 24×7. I am not saying you can sit back and relax once you have a website, but it will go a long way in increasing the number of people who get exposed to your area of work.
7. Helps you acquire new clients
Heather Morse, a legal marketer in the U.S. (yes, lawyers are allowed to market and advertise in the US), writes about the lifecycle of getting a new client. It goes something like this:
Writing blog posts is not advertising and it goes a long way in establishing yourself as a credible professional. The more exposure you get and the more credible you appear; the better your chances of acquiring new clients become.
The bottom line is, a website is going to be an indispensable resource for a lawyer or a firm in India. If you do not have one, you are going to miss out (you already are) on a lot of opportunities. If you are already drowning in work and do not have the time to take up new cases, then you may have wasted the last 8-10 minutes reading this article. But if you want/need more work, you needed a website yesterday.
I look forward to your comments and feedback on this post. In my next post, I will discuss how to identify emerging topics to blog about and the traits of a search engine friendly blog post.
If you have any questions regarding how search engines and websites work or there is a specific issue you would like to me to discuss in one of my posts, please drop in a line (either by email or through the comments section below) and I will be glad to cover it. So long.