In this instalment of Words that Bite, I look at why law firms need bespoke copy for their websites, and outline some techniques that you can use to get away from the usual cookie-cutter approach that a lot of law firms rely on.
Anyone who reads this blog will know that I have been quite critical of most law firms’ website copy.
As I see it, the main weaknesses are:
I have also whinged about the quality of the bios on professional services firms’ websites because most make the professionals concerned look like aliens, rather than well-rounded human beings. To be more specific, lawyers are often presented as cold and unfeeling professionals, rather than superb technicians who can also act as trusted advisers because they can not only see the legal issue in front of them, and how to solve it, but understand people.
When writing bios for lawyers (or anyone else working in the professional services field), one useful test to determine whether the copy is any good is to ask whether if all the potential client knows about the lawyer is what they read in the bio on the website, it would persuade a potential client to retain them.
Using the same bland type of copy that most law firms employ is a problem because it means that while your law firm’s website may be functioning as an online brochure, it probably isn’t doing much to persuade potential clients to select you over a competitor.
In a perfect world, a law firm website should not only function as a reference tool for potential clients who have heard about the firm but also work hard to persuade them to call your firm, instead of the one down the road that practises in the same areas as yours.
The reason why writing copy for law firm websites is so difficult is that the traditional techniques used by copywriters to reel in customers are not necessarily appropriate for law firms. Most of the time, the ‘hard sell’ or the ‘alluring offer’ sound cheap and nasty when used in the context of a law firm and, quite rightly, no self-respecting firm would agree to use those kinds of tactics.
One of the other things copywriters do is try to draw the reader into the copy by using a tone that is familiar, friendly and even intimate. They might try to appeal to the emotions, or appeal to a sense of nostalgia, to engage a potential customer from the target market. However, if you employ such methods for a law firm, it can sound not only cheap but cheesy.
At the same time, the distant, cold tone used by a large number of firms does nothing to win clients.
I believe that the answer is in balancing these two elements, so that, on one hand, the tone of the copy sounds professional; and, on the other, it works to win clients by explaining exactly what the firm does that makes it a better option than other firms. Sometimes, you can be more personal. At other times, a more intimate tone doesn’t work. Ultimately, it depends on the personality of the firm and the image it wants to present to the world.
Writing bios for lawyers is tricky and it is important to realise that there isn’t a magic formula for it.
Once again, writing the copy is a balancing act. On one hand, you need to demonstrate the lawyer’s skills and ability. On the other, you need to explain why a client should entrust this lawyer, instead of one of the lawyer’s colleagues, with the care of their legal affairs. If appropriate, you should present the lawyer’s human side.
It is also important to understand that there is no quick-fix solution you can apply to writing copy for law firms, because each firm is different. Therefore, what works for one firm won’t necessarily work for another.
For example, a large, conservative firm is probably not going to feel comfortable with copy that employs a friendly and intimate tone. Instead, it might require something more formal. Alternatively, a hip young boutique firm might decide that friendly and intimate copy is just what it needs to distinguish itself from its competitors.
However, in both cases, the copy needs to explain what differentiates your firm from other firms. It should also outline the advantages for clients in retaining your firm over your competitors.
Ultimately, the ideal copy for a law firm website will be unique in the way it reflects the personality and voice of the firm. It is a bit like suits – the best-fitting one will probably have been made by a bespoke tailor, rather than being a mass-produced one purchased off the rack in a department store.
All in all, a lot of work and thinking are involved. It is then a matter of taking all that work and thought and converting it into language that presents your firm to your clients, and potential clients, in a way that will have them knocking on your door instead of your competitor’s door.
Trust me when I say writing copy for a website takes time and isn’t easy. It isn’t a matter of just sitting down for a few hours and watching the words flow onto the page. I’d also argue that it is more art than science.
When creating copy for your law firm’s website, you should focus on:
Do you want bespoke copy for your law firm’s website but don’t have time to prepare it yourself? Would you feel more comfortable working with someone who has a legal background? The Pink Rottweiler specialises in bespoke copy for law firms. If you would like to chat about your firm’s website copy, call the Pink Rottweiler on +61 (0)409 609 903 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.