Web Site Basics: Are You www.something.com?
by Dena A. Kleeman and Sharon Hall
(May 2000, Vol. 20, No. 5)

 

Web Site Basics: Are You www.something.com?

By Dena A. Kleeman, Esq., chair, Law Practice Management Section, dak@kleemanlaw.com, and Sharon Hall, principal, The Perfect Solution, a company specializing in WordPerfect office solutions and Web site design, seh@perfectsolution.net. Contact our Law Practice Management Section Forum at lpm@forums.lacba.org. The opinions expressed are their own.

Here we are on the threshold of the 21st century. It seems everything and everyone is http://www.something.com these days. Businesses of all sizes and types are part of the World Wide Web...whether selling goods or promoting services. So, is it necessary for your firm to establish a "cyber-presence"?

Some smaller law firms may receive most of their business through referrals of clients past and present -- or may consider aggressive advertising or marketing cost-prohibitive.

However, a basic Web site may be all a firm needs to move toward a more aggressive and cost-effective marketing strategy. The initial registration of a domain name for your firm ("www.ourlawfirm.com") costs $70 for two years. Securing a host for your Web site need not be costly either. There are literally hundreds of Web site hosting services to meet a variety of needs at a reasonable price. (See www.HostSearch.com).

  • Your firm will need to decide on content and kind of information you wish to convey.
  • An on-line brochure with photos, bios and contact information is a start.
  • Firms are adding newsletters, relevant court decisions, client checklists and links to other legal resources.
  • A secure area where lawyers and clients can work on documents together is a possibility.
  • You could consider on-line billing information so clients always know their outstanding balance and can review the work performed.
  • Another option -- video clips (however, video load-time may frustrate the potential viewer).

A Web site that is too busy with animation, flashy graphics and non-functioning links may be "overkill."

Based on the size and content of your site, you need to decide whether to design the site in-house or contract the services of a professional Web designer. The cost of using a professional Web design firm varies. Some sites may cost as little as $1,000 to design; others, more than $10,000. Regular maintenance is required of any site to keep information up-to-date, an additional marketing cost.

Once your site is complete, the next step is to ensure that potential clients find it. This is accomplished by submitting information about the site to the various Internet search engines (Yahoo, Alta Vista, etc.), as well as pertinent law-related sites (e.g., update your Martindale-Hubbell entry with a link to your Web site.) Most design firms include search engine submission as part of the overall package of services offered to clients.

Some firms choose to utilize law-related sites such as www.lawyers.com to establish a presence on the Internet. There are limitations to this "package" option since use of certain templates is required, and the site is necessarily designated www.lawyers.com/ourfirm.htmvs. www.ourfirm.com. But it certainly is a start.

There are many issues to consider in planning how to establish an Internet presence. The bottom line? The decision will likely correlate with your firm's advertising and marketing strategy and budget. However, having one place for potential clients, referring attorneys, job prospects and others to access can be a very efficient marketing strategy.

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