It's no longer a shock to see lawyers, or any other professionals, advertising online. According to LexisNexis, 76% of people search online to find an attorney. Furthermore, 60% of adult internet users will need an attorney at some point in their lives. Advertising your legal services is not only acceptable, it's the new norm. With this in mind, lawyers need to keep in mind the internet is fluid and permanent at the same time.
Five Mistakes Lawyers Should Avoid At All Costs
- Too much abstract writing. Even if you're writing for a legal site or blog, be aware of readers who are non-lawyers. Legal coach Allison Shields urges lawyers to write for real people rather than a concept. Use the language your clients use and be sure to use search engine optimization practices in your writing.
- Not following up on queries from your website. Someone should be checking at least once every business day to route questions or comments left by visitors to your website. Not providing a prompt response, even if it merely acknowledges the message, is as damaging to your reputation as not returning phone calls. It also discourages a potential client from ever coming back. Comments or questions left on the site can be instantly forwarded to a specific email address. Full responses should be sent as quickly as possible.
- Misusing Twitter. Many law firms and attorneys have established Twitter accounts. But as Mathew Hickey notes on his RocketLawyer blog, some attorneys have mistaken the 140-character tweets as an advertising vehicle. Instead of tweeting people you don't know to follow you, which is considered spamming on Twitter, tweet your request only to those you actually know. Use other measures to let people know you are on Twitter. Put the Twitter button on your website, list it on your LinkedIn profile and add it to your email signature.
- Insulting clients/judges/colleagues on Facebook or Twitter. Lots of people, including attorneys, have Facebook accounts. There's nothing wrong with this but don't assume it's really private to you and your friends. Don't share your opinions about a certain judge, client, or colleague even if you think you're being coy about who it is. Facebook's privacy protections aren't as secure as it claims. Mistakes are made and protections don't always work, as even Mark Zuckerberg's own sister recently learned.
- Speaking too freely in an online forum. If you want to comment on a blog or news story, be very careful you don't say anything to compromise client privacy or the reputation of your firm. Remember, what goes on the internet stays on the internet. Matthew Hickey suggests you follow this rule: if you wouldn't speak it in a public forum, don't write about it.