A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers

A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers

Australasian law firms: Positioned to win in a digital world?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

By Amy Burton-Bradley, Partner, Julian Midwinter & Associates

As highlighted in LexisNexis’ recent study with ALPMA, Preparing Australasian Law for a Digital, Divergent, Differentiated Future, the perennial challenge for any law firm is finding new clients and unlocking more business from existing clients.  After all, without clients, a law firm won’t survive – no matter how proficient their lawyers are.

Is your firm lagging behind in online, digital and social media?

Many of the 'younger' clients with whom firms deal (and who are moving up in the ranks of decision-making) have never been without the internet or email. Think about that for a moment. 

With smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices rapidly overtaking desktop PCs and laptops as the primary way the internet is accessed, digital, social and mobile is less a trend than a way of life. Australian smartphone penetration is almost 90%, according to the latest Australian Mobile Phone Lifestyle Index findings.

But are law firms keeping up at a basic level? And how many are making the most of these new tools at a sophisticated level (e.g. developing their own apps)?

Firms will hopefully have addressed issues stemming from Google’s mobile search ranking changes earlier this year, and many firms expect to significantly ramp up their online presence through social media and digital lead generation strategies in the near future.  

For those firms that are not sure where to start, or who are not sure what to do next, I offer some advice and tips:

Where to start: your firm’s position and your website

If your firm is about to spend precious dollars, time, and effort attracting and enticing prospective clients and referral sources through social media, RSS feeds, blog and LinkedIn posts, I recommend you think before you Tweet!

I can’t stress enough the singular importance of housekeeping:  define your firm’s position first, then get your firm website in order, and only then consider expanding your online presence. 

Your website needs to be ready as an appealing landing place for visitors, whether they reach it through your social media channels, email campaigns, or traditional, “off-line” marketing.

Is your website positioned with a clearly articulated overarching value proposition?

This really has to be the first thing to focus on – I see far too many law firms without a clearly articulated position (see my article, Position your firm or die!). 

Beyond a clear position, your website needs to be able to answer the following questions for visitors: 

  • Who are you? 
  • What do you do? 
  • Can you solve my problem? 
Your content should be framed to respond to the way people search for and then absorb information.  That is, content should be rich with key words, terms, answers, and useful information helpful to prospective clients, referrers, and advocates.

The structure and presentation of your content is also crucial. Make sure your website pages are easy for users to discover (and easy for search bots to follow), with relevant page titles, headings and subheadings, and meta descriptions.

You might be an expert in section x of the Trade Practices Act, but is a non-lawyer likely to Google that precise term? Might they not instead search for “consumer law”, or “regulator problem”, or “trade practices legal problem”?

To see how effective your current website is, try Hubspot’s free website grader tool.  It will assess the crucial indicators of performance, mobile responsiveness, and security, and show you where you need to improve. 
If you score poorly, this assessment can be a great starting point to work through with your current website developer.

And if you conclude that visitors will arrive at your website and hit a dead end, it’s time for a content overhaul.

Expand your presence with social media

Once you’re confident that your firm’s website is up to scratch, you can start to develop your online presence through social media channels like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. These channels should ultimately lead visitors back to your website.

Don’t be tempted to rush in to social media by the relative ease and speed at which you can publish content. Firms should be aware of the risks of “digital sharecropping” – that is, publishing your content on sites that you don’t own (such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+). 

Your content is essentially owned by the platform, and not only are you subject to their guidelines and restrictions on what and how you can publish, but also you risk losing all of your content should the site disappear.

As Copyblogger advises, “spend most of your time and creative energy building assets that you control”. This is your firm website.

Editor's Note

In conjunction with ALPMA, Julian Midwinter & Associates is excited to kick-off  Winning work in a digital world, our second benchmarking study into Australasian law firms’ marketing and business development. 

The study will focus on how law firms are responding to their biggest challenges: acquisition of new clients and business; differentiation in a crowded market; and use of online, digital, and social media.

The online survey is open to all Australasian law firms until 6 October, 2015.  Participation is free, and all participants will receive a complimentary copy of the research results report.   The survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete.  All information collected will remain strictly confidential and will be used for research purposes only.  No individual firms will be identified in any way.

Two lucky participants will also win a marketing and BD Benchmark Briefing session for their firm, facilitated by a consultant from Julian Midwinter & Associates (valued at $850).  

About our Guest Blogger

Amy Burton-Bradley is an experienced business developer, marketer, and copy-writer, who has worked with more law firm clients than she cares to remember! 

She is a Partner at Julian Midwinter & Associates, a business development consultancy that has helped law firms attract, win, grow, and retain new clients and business since 1993.

  Subscribe to receive posts as email

Recent Posts



Australian Corporate Partners

Principal Summit Partner

Thought Leadership Awards Partner