John McDougall: Hi, I’m John McDougall. Welcome to Legal Marketing Review. Today, my guest is Liz Wall, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Drummond Woodsum, a regional New England law firm with offices in Portland, Maine and Portsmouth and Manchester, New Hampshire. Welcome, Liz.
Liz Wall: Thank you very much, John. How are you today?
Specialties Vs. Many Practice Areas
John: Doing really good. How important is it that an attorney is an authority in their main practice area versus trying to be good at too many areas of the law?
Liz: That’s an interesting question, John. I think it really depends on the type of firm and the market that the firm is in. I think large firms have specialties. When they’re serving larger clients, the attorneys really need to be in those niche areas because the clients are bigger and they’re looking for very specific skills.
In a regional firm and a mid‑size firm, I believe that the attorneys can practice in a variety of practice areas. In a smaller community, the clients like to have one‑stop shopping where they can go to a relationship partner for a litigation matter or they can be referred to someone in the same firm for that corporate matter.
John: It depends on the size of the firm, in a lot of ways?
Liz: I think it depends on the size of the firm, and I think it depends on the market that the firm is in.
Attorney Bio Pages
John: Those are some good points. Do people generally hire based on a law firm’s brand or individual attorneys? How much influence do attorneys with substance in their website bio pages have on hiring decisions?
Liz: I believe it’s a component. I think the reputation of the attorney is the brand. I’d say the job of a Director of Marketing is to help put the attorneys in the right place at the right time to sell their business or their services. A web bio is a piece that’s likely to help drive business. It’s not the only piece or the only reason why a client would hire that attorney, but it definitely influences the purchasing power.
John: Have you guys done much work on the bios? Is that something you’re tinkering with or is it more “one and done”?
Liz: We are constantly improving the biographies. One thing that we’ve improved over the last year at Drummond Woodsum has been the “relatability” or the relationship concept. We have a news item, a blog post, an article that an attorney has read. It’s now linked to the biography, as well as the practice area and the news item, so that those circular references are throughout our site. Those references help with search engine optimization as well.
Signs of Credibility on Attorney Websites
John: Absolutely. When you first look at an attorney website, how do you know if they or their firm are credible and can they be trusted? Is there a way to tell that, when you’re just glancing at a site and first getting to know someone?
Liz: I believe the quality of the site definitely influences how credible a firm is. When I look at biographies, specifically, even at competitive firms, I want to see the amount of news items and the amount of articles that are tied to each one of the individual attorneys. I’m looking for key areas that they can be identified in.
Again, look, feel, color ‑‑ it all helps put the attorney into the right place to get that matter in the door. It’s important that the website is updated regularly. If I see on the biography, “Most recently, John represented XYZ Corporation,” and in 1998 is the case, then that attorney hasn’t cared enough to update their biography. To see their lack of interest or their not focusing on putting their best foot forward would make me think twice about hiring them.
John: That’s interesting. Even down to the freshness and the number of articles written, thought leader pieces by an attorney. Not just — the look and the feel definitely, it needs to feel credible and professional — but you’re looking out for that thing, the amount of content and how fresh it is.
Liz: Absolutely, if I see that the attorney has written 10 articles and all of them are in 2001 and [earlier], I don’t think that attorney’s doing any work in that area anymore or is not on top of what’s happening in that industry.
Thought Leadership Activities for Attorneys
John: Absolutely. What are a few of the most important thought leadership activities for attorneys, such as blogging, public relations, being an author, client alerts, newsletters, social media, amongst all those things? Are there things that really stand out or are they all important?
Liz: They’re all important, John. Honestly, the market and individuals digest information differently. A public relations piece can be repurposed. A blog can be repurposed. If a client alert goes out as a mailing, there’s no reason why it’s not indexed, archived and saved on the Web or a variety of websites for years to come.
We recently had a matter come through the door that somebody Googled a very specific topic that affected land issues and an attorney wrote an article on this very specific land issue in, I think it was 2010, so four years ago.
Because the words were in there and that article, as well as the conference that the attorney presented that article at, were online — and not just on our website, but also on the conference company’s website — that client, at that point potential client, picked up the phone, called the attorney and said, “Hey, I saw you did this back in 2010. Are you still practicing in this area of real estate and land use?”
The attorney said, “Yes, I am. I haven’t presented on it recently, but I’m on top of the laws,” and the matter came through the door. Again, I don’t think that there’s any one area of thought leadership activities that are more important than another. It’s making use of those thought leadership activities for search engines to find the individuals associated with them for years to come.
Tracking Results Using Google Analytics
John: Absolutely. Are you guys doing much with tracking the results? Do you use Google Analytics or other tools for that?
Liz: We do. We use Google Analytics. We also have tracking mechanisms on our website that we can see where the referrals come in through. I believe that, between LinkedIn and Twitter, the majority of the content is being found or people are coming to us through those mechanisms.
Setting up a separate blog and requiring users to check back or update or find a separate blog on a regular basis that is not part of their everyday life and experience is not as relevant. Having it there for the search engines to find later on is, but I think it’s taking advantage of a variety of activities to drive the business in.
John: Absolutely. Well, I really appreciate your tips today. I’m sure everyone else does as well. For more information, what’s your website address?
Liz: We’re Drummond Woodsum. We’re in Portland, Maine; Portsmouth, New Hampshire; and Manchester, New Hampshire. Our website is www.dwmlaw.com.
John: Great. For everyone listening on iTunes, et cetera, check out legalmarketingreview.com for more interviews and information on legal marketing. I’m John McDougall and see you next time on Legal Marketing Review. Talk to you later, Liz.
Liz: Thank you. Bye‑bye.