Posted Apr 1, 2009 11:20 PM CDT
By Tom Mighell
Since social networking and the “virtual law office” are discussed in other sections of this article, I’d like to talk about firm websites that deliver substantive information in innovative ways.
Aside from telling visitors the usual “who we are and what we do,” a firm website’s biggest opportunity is in providing regularly updated legal content—articles, newsletters, feeds, podcasts—to clients and potential clients alike. While all law firms feature a publications or resources section, here are two sites that provide this content in new and interesting ways.
My small-firm choice is North Carolina Divorce, the website of Raleigh-based lawyer Lee Rosen. While the site is a little busy for my taste, Rosen provides many different ways for potential clients to learn about divorce law and get real information without talking to a lawyer.
For each family law topic, users can view and download articles, forms, videos and podcasts, all frequently updated. The site also features a discussion forum where people can post legal questions for attorneys to answer or talk with other members about emotional issues surrounding the divorce process. You’ll even find three calculators that help you determine child support, alimony or fees.
My big-firm choice is making great use of Web 2.0 technologies to provide information in two different ways. Reed Smith is using RSS feeds to deliver regular content to subscribers. Although a number of firms also provide RSS feeds, Reed Smith offers a “roll your own” feed—just check the practice areas and topics that interest you and you’ll receive a personal, customized feed. This is a terrific way to deliver targeted, regularly updated information to site users. The site also uses “tagging” to show its most popular pages—just click the “most viewed” tab on the home page.
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Tom Mighell is a senior manager of consulting at Fios, an e-discovery services provider. The Dallas lawyer is the author of the legal research and technology blog Inter Alia.