Law firms: Stand apart to stand out

Opportunities To Lead 2022 01A 430

Law firms: Stand apart to stand out

26 July 2022

Law firms are notoriously risk averse, and this is evident in brand positioning, messaging, and visual identity. Since law firms don’t rely on slick television advertisements or eye-catching billboards to sell their brand, the website and, to a lesser extent, social media are the primary touchpoints for target audiences and represent a crucial opportunity to tell the firm’s story and showcase the people who make the firm what it is.

The problem
When comparing the websites of many law firms, they start to blend, and it’s obvious that most firms would rather just play it safe. A large image, a nebulous headline, and a bland description – that’s typically what greets a visitor first. Brand positioning is often hidden, and the visual language is indistinct. In addition, two of the defining elements – the people and the key practice areas – of the firm are often overlooked.

Too often, a visitor to the ‘Who we are’ or ‘People’ section of a website is greeted by just a people search page with a bland and uninspiring presentation of an alphabet for searching by last name along with additional filters to help locate attorneys based on location, bar admission, practice area, and perhaps law school attended. What’s missing, ironically, is any information or description about the people who make up the firm or about its culture or its bench strength.

Another common user experience for a visitor to a law firm website is trying to navigate dropdown menus with an overwhelming number of links. Larger firms often list all of their practice areas in a dropdown menu in alphabetical order. This makes it impossible to decipher their strengths and areas of focus.

The opportunity
The people landing page and the attorney biographies are among the most visited areas of a law firm website. This is where the personality of the firm and its people need to shine through. An alphabet does not accomplish that. Firms that have information about their people, a description of the culture and values, and accompanying visuals will stand out and resonate with those viewing the site. Furthermore, attorney profiles that feature larger, more welcoming headshots with more concise and carefully curated content will demonstrate the human side.

Outstanding content is not enough to make a website engaging. Almost all firms have thought leadership pieces, blogs, podcasts, and news sections. It’s how the content is organized and presented that determines if they stand out. A properly executed navigation strategy – with content distributed into easily accessible sections and the firm’s most prominent practices and industries highlighted – will improve the user experience and help convey the firm’s identity to the user.

Firms that employ a distinct visual language, craft an engaging brand message, and establish a unique identity will stand out in the sector. Last year we talked about the importance of brand purpose, yet many firms still fail to state their brand positioning up front. Those firms that dare to embrace change and deliver something unique and impactful on their websites will stand apart.

The solution
Speak to one of our law firm experts to find out how we can help your business stand apart and stand out from your competitors. Contact Duncan Shaw in New York, Greg Hobden in London or Gigi Yung in Hong Kong.