Social Media Persona vs Law Website Profile

I am very excited to be presenting a workshop on using social media at next week’s Resolution ADR Conference.  Part of that will be exploring the tension between sanctioned corporate website profiles and a fully, complementary online persona, or presence.

I am grateful to Matthew Homann, author of the excellent NonBillableHour blog for allowing me to use his ingenious venn diagram comparing what website profiles say, and what clients want to know.

I am also musing with adapting the first verse from The Beatles “A Day In The Life…” as follows (join in if you know the words)

I read your profile today, oh boy

About a lucky man who made the grade,

And though the profile was rather dull,

I had just had to laugh…

You know the rest.

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6 Comments

Filed under Law, Lawyers and Social Media

6 responses to “Social Media Persona vs Law Website Profile

  1. Jon Busby

    Neil

    This is all very interesting.

    I have been burrowing away looking at some models where law firm websites start to become a way of driving the client to a conversation with the fee earner. Primarily because this is a rich value point for the client.

    The language of the website becomes ultra critical in driving these calls to action.

    I am a little unconvinced that the client should be fully served by the website, or at least not until there has been a ‘needs’ conversation first. It is only then that the appropriate ‘solution’ should be presented to the client. That may be online, that probably will be face to face in today’s market. What will be critical for law firms is to ensure they have all solution options available.

    I shall report back!

  2. Thanks Jon for sharing that.

    I wonder about the website as dialogue channel. Surely this has been the intent since the start, hasn’t it?

    I presume you are looking at something a bit more sophisticated than converting hits into calls. I wonder how you might go about making that conversion without oppressive and unwelcome data entry…

    I look forward to hearing more.

    On a side note, my colleague pulled me up on using the phrase Fee-earner. She hates it and I think she might have a point. The idea that somebody’s role and identity is to earn fees must be unattractive to client and lawyer alike? Perhaps that is a point for a different post.

  3. Jon Busby

    The thing is Neil everyone is obsessing about the website. It is just one tool.

    At the moment, my sense is that most clients phone you. That will continue. That is a high value point for the lawyer (is that word okay?), because they are more in control of the conversation, more comfortable, leveraging value, matching solution to need etc.

    The website, right here, right now, is a junior engagement tool but not one that can be ignored. Why? Because over 50% of legal searches contain the word ‘solicitor’ which says to me that more people than not value the lawyer input.

    They are looking for a solution, not a document, it is your job to solve their need with a solution.

    So the smart law firm would also be thinking “if so many are searching, Googling then I better make sure that when they are driven to my site that it connects with them and that means our language needs to be consumer and not lawyer focused.”

    For example change say “company and commercial” to “how we can help you start/run your business?”

    The landing pages need to be built and styled to engage and draw the client to engaging with a lawyer.

    By driving the client to the fee earner that is where the need/solution matching process, the leveraging of lawyer value (local, expert, human advice), can begin.

    From there it may be that the client is dealt in office or it may be that the client can do an initial draft, securely online. What will determine that is the clients need and the lawyer matching that with an appropriate solution.

    Over time that balance may shift to more online as the lawyers educate their market, (incentivised by the fact that moving to online reduces delivery cost). But this will be an evolutionary and not a revolutionary process as all sides need to work together.

    Ok, these are my thoughts, typing on an iPad so apologies for any typos.

  4. Agree on all of that although I think I detect something of a tension in your approach and the distinction between “Documents” and “Solutions”.

    In your third last paragraph you refer to “Client can do an initial draft” a bit too readily.

    I think I understand your point though that between the client coming to the website and drafting a solution (or document) that there is some human, or lawyer, contact.

    I like the way that works.

    It may be possible for a web platform to assimilate the info and direct to the pro-forma. But that is not the point.

    Even where it is possible, the transition via human contact could be very valuable

    a… to the firm who get the chance to form that relationship

    and b… to the client who is likely to have a need to have spoken to, been understood and reassured by a lawyer.

    Have I understood that correctly or am I just being sentimental do you think?

  5. Jon Busby

    Yes and no Neil.

    My sense is this more clients than not will want to talk to the lawyer rather than go to the site and start building the initial draft themselves to be submitted for review, although some will have the option to do that.

    Most though, and just to emphasise, at this stage in the market cycle, will either phone or got to site then gonto the fee earner. They willndo this principally cos they want to talk things through.

    If the client is price sensitive, if the matter is relatively routine, if the client is comfortable building initially online, if the client is remote then online can solve this…but remember the lawyer always stays in control of the process.

    But my big point is this…it is the lawyers job to help decide what is the appropriate solution.

    This is not the place for me to bore on how this online engagement can all be done in a very sophisticated way, for now I am going to have to let people trust me that it can. Law firms just need to have it explained to them so they can choose.

    What I love about this model is it puts the power in the hands of the law firm so that they can educate their markets and maintain a degree of control.

    Tools help us by providing solutions but humans understand the problem best of all and navigate us to them.

  6. Jon Busby

    Forgot to mention.

    It is this local, expert, human engagement point, this conversation, this one to one solving point that is a law firms great differentiator, be it against other law firms or major brands.

    I recently had call to see a solicitor and what impressed me was not how she took me through the things I came to see her about but the things I hadn’t even thought about.

    Now that is value worth paying for.

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