Twitter LinkedIn

Seven essential elements of a law firm website

  • By 3chillies

Every law firm has a corporate website which serves as much more than just brochureware. It is a site that helps to validate a firm’s expertise and specialisms, demonstrating legal know-how. It encourages people to connect with individual lawyers. It also tries to attract new visitors while also encouraging them to return, for example through regular legal updates.

We’ve been involved with several legal website projects over the years and today we are still working with a number of top 50 UK law firms. While every legal website is different, there are some areas which consistently stand-out as particularly important and need more care and attention.

In this post we’re going to focus on what we see as seven essential elements of any law firm website.

  1. Partner and staff directory
  2. Legal firms are people-based businesses where customers and clients put their trust in the expertise, know-how and expertise of partners and associates. A website must reflect that expertise and showcase its partners and staff, demonstrating and validating the experience of each person through partner and staff profiles.

    Profiles tend to be the most visited part of any law firm website and it is quite possible that a visitor enters your site by Googling a partner, and their profile is the first page they see. Partner and staff profiles also need to encourage connections and give visitors a route to contact that person.

    When creating partner and staff profiles there are several considerations including:

    • Ensuring there is good professional photograph, usually conveying that someone is also approachable.
    • Deciding which staff to include in the directory – for example whether you include non-fee earning staff and trainees.
    • Ensuring there is a straightforward and clear pen portrait with salient but succinct details.
    • Including the right tags relating to practice areas, legal specialisms and sector experience that will also show up in the search (covered in more detail below).
    • Adding any credentials including commentary from the legal directories.
    • Linking to any news items, articles and blogs referring to or written by the person.
    • Adding telephone and email details, in ways that are secure, so avoiding an email address being spammed by bots.

    People profiles are extremely important on your site and it’s worth spending time getting the design and content right.

  3. Legal insights
  4. Legal insights, updates and commentary acts as a way to attract first-time and return visitors, while also helping to demonstrate and validate the expertise and knowledge of individuals and teams. Legal insights and updates form a core part of the new content that is added to a law firm website and come in different formats:

    • Knowledge articles
    • Blogs and commentary
    • Specific updates and news
    • Wider thought leadership pieces
    • Newsletters
    • Video

  5. All the required legal and regulatory notices and statements
  6. On most websites, any legal and regulatory notices and statements such as the privacy statement tend to be an afterthought and to be honest, sometimes the digital marketing team don’t tend to view these as a priority. Of course, on a law firm website they need to be watertight, particularly if your legal firm gives advice in this area. If there is something missing it’s the kind of the thing the partners and associates in your firm may also notice, so it helps to ensure you retain their confidence.

    Typically, the legal, regulatory and compliance-related statements will include some or all of the following:

    • Terms and conditions relating to the use of the site
    • Privacy statement or notice
    • Cookie policy or statement
    • Legal and regulatory notices relating to the services, legal status, insurance cover, complaints procedures and more
    • Modern Slavery Statement
    • Accessibility statement or policy
    • Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) website verification
    • Any other policies that are helpful to include

  7. A cookie solution
  8. As well as all the required legal and regulatory material in place, it’s also important to have the right approach to cookie management so that visitors to give their consent. Again, its imperative to get this right to establish credibility with visitors (who may be in-house legal staff) but also internally too.

    We advocate using a cookie management solution like Cookiebot that manages the whole consent process and is embedded into your website. It provides information to visitors so they can make an informed decision, and even allows you to manage the cookie list with some automation in place to detect cookies. This takes much of the pain and effort in managing cookies, while also helping to satisfy your internal compliance teams.

  9. A good search and navigation
  10. Good findability on a law firm website is always important. Many visitors will have a very specific aim in coming there, for example wanting to find information on a particular practice area, individual partner, legal issue, seeking a particular update, or wanting to find a publication. Over time, legal firm websites can start to accumulate a lot of content and findability can start to suffer.

    There are a variety of different features in a website, all of which can help your visitors find what they need. Considering these holistically and how they complement each other is always the best approach. Features include:

    • Search with the ability to use filters and tags covering factors to narrow down search
    • Where appropriate, scoped searches to search particular sections of the site
    • A people search to view partner and staff profiles, again with different filters to find the right person
    • Your site navigation (information architecture), usually using a mega-menu to link to the a sufficient range of content
    • Landing pages which often link to sub-pages
    • Related pages and content suggestions based on tagging
    • Navigational aids such as a site-map or an A to Z directory of topics, sites or people.

    There are lots of different features you can use to improve findability, many of which rely on a consistent approach to tagging and metadata, usually based on a controlled taxonomy.

  11. Practice and expertise areas
  12. Information on different practice areas, services offered and sector expertise are also a key destination for site visitors. Law firms often get themselves in knots in considering the structure of how these are presented and the granularity of how they are described. Frequently there are so many different areas to describe that content needs to be ordered into a hierarchical structure, and there are multiple options in how these are presented to market. To avoid a lot of navel gazing, it pays to have clarity and consensus on:

    • the structure and hierarchy of practice areas pages
    • what constitutes a “service”, “sector”, “product” “practice area”, “area of expertise” or similar descriptors
    • how these align with descriptions of expertise in partner and staff profiles.

    Ultimately using tagging also means you surface legal insights and even partner profiles dynamically on a particular practice area page.

  13. Careers section
  14. The careers section for any law firm is an absolutely priority area, acting as a shop window for the graduate training scheme and any other trainee initiatives, while also trying to attract legal and non-legal staff. Sometimes it sits as a microsite distinct from the main site, while the graduate trainee scheme may have a further specific campaign behind it that makes it distinct from other parts of the careers section.

    Typically, a careers section needs to provide a flavour of what it is like to work at your firm and convey your culture. It may feature profiles and videos of staff talking about their experiences, so can sometimes be quite distinct in the tone of voice and imagery used compared to other parts of the website, being less formal.

    Most of the larger legal firms will then link to an external jobs board that is hosted on another service, but is skinned to provide some consistency with your website. Occasionally it may be embedded within the law firm website. The jobs board will display open opportunities as well as host the application process. Sometimes the graduate training application process is hosted again on a different system.

Need help with your law firm website? Get in touch!

Law firm websites have their own unique characteristics and its important to get them right. We’ve been privileged to work with some great teams from UK legal firms, and we’re proud of our work. If you’d like to discuss your law firm website or a particular project, then get in touch!

scroll back to the top of the current web page