When people need a lawyer, they naturally turn to someone they trust. Perhaps a neighbor or friend happens to be a lawyer, or maybe they know someone who just had the same kind of legal problem. Even with a referral, however, smart legal clients do research before retaining you to represent them or their company. It makes sense — they want to know something about you beyond your firm name and your JD status. So is a law blog a good idea?
Small- and medium-sized firms have a huge untapped opportunity to establish a relationship with clients and prospects through blogging. As of 2016, only 26 percent of law firms had law blogs, and only seven percent of lawyers maintained an individual blog for professional purposes.
Now consider this: 77 percent of internet users read blogs. That’s more than 2 billion people. Not all of those people are prospective legal clients, of course, but it seems fair to assume that a big chunk of your prospects read blogs.
A law blog brings clients in
Blogs lure readers to your website where they become leads, the lifeblood of any legal practice. But a law blog also give lawyers an opportunity to establish credibility and actively attract the type of cases they want.
For example, a Florida firm that represents motorcycle riders in personal injury suits blogs about topics of interest to motorcycle enthusiasts. Another example is commercial law firm Becker & Poliakoff. Their website includes a law blog on Florida HOA law, New Jersey condo law and more.
Both firms know their desired clientele and the issues that matter to them, and they provide valuable information on a consistent basis to those audiences.
So why not start your own law blog? Common objections I frequently hear from attorneys are that law is a regulated industry and they don’t want to create an attorney/client relationship that might subject them to liability. But there is a way to blog without creating problems for yourself.
Here are some tips.
Blog about something other than law
Here’s the thing: your prospects are interested in much more than law. The motorcycle injury law firm, for instance, recently featured a blog post about choosing the right motorcycle helmet. Use your law blog to attract the specific type of clients you want by covering interests and concerns they have outside the law.
Blog about law, but keep it general
You’ll most likely want to cover some legal topics (since a legal problem is what will ultimately bring readers into your office), but stick to providing information — not advice based on a specific person’s case. You can see that distinction at work here in this post from Becker & Poliakoff, in which they address the topic of accommodating requests for support animals. They explain what the law is, but they don’t apply it to the specific facts of the reader’s case.
Turn off comments or be prepared to answer them by recommending that your reader consult with a licensed attorney in their area.
For this reason, you might want to turn off comments. Commenters are very likely to introduce their own set of facts and ask you to comment on their situation. This is exactly the type of exchange you need to avoid.
Insert a disclaimer in your law blog
Another option is to include a disclaimer at the bottom of every blog post. Here’s mine:
“This post and any articles linked from this post are not legal advice and are not intended as legal advice. All posts on this site are intended to provide only general, non-specific legal information. This blog does not create any attorney-client relationship, and is not a solicitation.”
Fellow attorney Sara Hawkins has this in the footer of every page on her website: “THIS WEBSITE IS PROVIDED FOR INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT OFFERED AS LEGAL ADVICE.”
Large firms might prefer something more comprehensive, like this:
“[Law Firm Name] publishes this blog for educational purposes only, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you indicate that you understand there is no attorney-client relationship between you and the [Law Firm Name]. This blog should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed attorney. In addition, statements made on this blog represent the viewpoints of the individual authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of [Law Firm Name] or any of our clients.”
The language you use isn’t as important as getting the point across — you’re offering information, not legal advice.
Help more clients find you online — blog
You have a valuable opportunity to help clients and prospects get to know you better through your law blog — don’t miss out! With a little planning, you and your firm can incorporate blogging into your marketing mix with minimal risk. So proceed, counselor.
Image by: Visualhunt