Letters to the Editor

More Tips on Top Sites

Posted Jun 1, 2009 11:10 PM CDT

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Law Firm Websites That Work,” April, was of particular interest to me, as law is a career change and I have worked in the fields of advertising, marketing and public relations. Before becoming an attorney in 1999, I did dabble in lawyer advertising as far back as the mid-80s and did work on websites for lawyers in the ’90s. I now maintain and market my own website.

What I have noticed is that too many lawyer websites look too similar in design, clearly indicating who their designer is based on the templates they use. Too often the websites look great if you seek a big, impersonal, corporate business look, but they fail to reflect the flavor of the small firm being advertised. I have also found that most of the legal site designers and promoters sell Web advertising based on the belief that lawyers are used to paying a one-third referral fee. Since most law firms run on an average of 50 percent overhead, to then pay one-third for advertising leaves very little profit. This cost should not exceed 15 percent of gross revenues, preferably no more than 10 percent.

Everyone promises you top-10 placement in search engine results, but only 10 can be in the top 10. So if the company doing your website does more than 10 law firm sites and promises you top-10 results, change companies. Maybe even consider not using one of the major legal site companies that also want your ad budget listed on its lawyer website. Instead use a company with a variety of clientele that can honestly seek to put you in the top 10 without conflict with its other clients and add a fresh flavor to your site.

You also want a company that uses search terms for your site based on the local demographic you market to—not the same ones for all lawyers in your area of law based on a national model. You want to look good and appealing to your demographic portion of the public, not other lawyers, unless other lawyers are the demographic you market to.

Mace H. Greenfield
Jericho, N.Y.


May a nonlawyer comment? I man­age an expert services firm that works exclusively with law firms. From my viewpoint, there are several essentials to a good law firm site:

• It should be user-friendly with a good index.

• It should list the areas of practice on which the firm concentrates.

• It should provide summary resumé information on its lawyers, including their specialties, and offer vCards for download to Outlook.

• It should list the firm’s snail-mail addresses and telephone numbers.

• It should give a list of representative clients and cases.

• And it should provide electronic contact capability through e-mail or through a website contact box.

Beyond that, graphics pizzazz, animations, etc. are superfluous. As a potential user of a law firm’s services, I would need to know where they are, how to contact them, who their key players are, their specialties and their experience. All else is eye candy that can actually get in the way.

William A. Wheatley
Bala Cynwyd, Pa.


BRAVO FOR BORN PROFILE

Thanks for the feature article devoted to the fabulous Brooksley Born (“The Born Prophecy,” May). I read about her efforts to educate the sheriffs who were letting the Wall Street cowboys run amok in a March Newsweek article titled “The Re-education of Larry Summers.” That only stoked my appetite for more about Born. Your arti­cle filled in the history that explains how she even had the guts to stand up and speak out in the overwhelmingly male world of banking and finance. Too bad the boys were having none of it.

One constant feature of the stories on the economic meltdown is that the bankers doing the “perp walk” and the absent-minders are all men. I have no doubt that if her rational warnings were uttered by Summers or by Robert Rubin or any of the men in charge, attention would have been paid. Now we get to pay the cost of their sexist thinking.

I knew Born’s reputation within the ABA for the decades she has spent knock­ing on, and down, doors closed to women, people of color and uninvited others. I am delighted that the ABA Journal has shone a spotlight on her impact beyond the association and the profession. Your story makes one wonder how many other disasters could have been avoided if more women had been around to listen.

J. Cunyon Gordon
Chicago


EMINENT DOMAIN ADDENDUM

Your recent article on eminent domain, “Where’s the Revolution?” April, implies that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Kelo decision, like earlier high court decisions, allows local governments to condemn prop­erty whenever some legitimate public purpose is involved.

But Justice Anthony M. Ken­nedy’s concurrence, which was the fifth and swing vote, suggests otherwise. Kennedy wrote that the taking at issue was valid only because (1) the city followed elaborate procedures, such as creating a “comprehensive development plan”; (2) the city was in a “serious citywide depression”; and (3) the ultimate beneficiaries of the taking were “unknown at the time the city formulated its plans.” If any of these elements are missing, the validity of the taking is questionable. Thus, Kennedy’s Kelo concurrence may have actually narrowed, rather than broadened, local governments’ right to condemn property.

Professor Michael Lewyn
Florida Coastal School of Law
Jacksonville, Fla.


BURSTING BIGLAW’S BUBBLE

Bernie Nussbaum—Harvard. Joe Jamail—University of Texas. James Neal—Vanderbilt and Georgetown. Fred Bartlit—University of Illinois. Bobby Lee Cook—Vanderbilt. James Brosnahan—Harvard. Richard “Race­horse” Haynes—Bates Col­lege of Law (now the University of Texas Law Center).

Of the seven attorneys showcased in the March feature “Lions of the Trial Bar: 7 Over 70,” page 20, only two graduated from schools that historically ranked in the top 10 in U.S. News & World Report.

Several of the notables admitted they were not particularly studious—Jamail flunked torts. Most had at least a year of work or other ex­perience between college and law school. All of them tried every sort of case they could as early as they could. All are not afraid to take risks.

So much for the USN&WR rankings, and BigLaw.

Barbara M. Frezza
La Jolla, Calif.


TWITTER TIME

Regarding “Much Chatter about Twitter,” April: The landscape of social relations is changing. If attorneys traditionally get 50 to 90 percent of their clients from their relationships, and the channels those relationships are being developed in are changing due to the Web, it follows that the most successful attorneys will adapt—or fail.

Speaking as the marketing di­rector of a small firm (the Condo­minium Law Group in Seattle), Twitter, for us, is a huge advantage to our social landscape. As Kevin O’Keefe points out in the article, what do you believe is more effective: Chasing people begging them to listen? Or people coming to you, asking you to talk to them?

I know which one I’m betting on.

Mark Farmer
Seattle


CORRECTION

In “Cutting to the Chase,” April, Attorney Marcia “Marty” Rowan of Richmond, Va., was mis­identified as Mary. The story also incorrectly states that she owned and ran a health-care management business. Rowan was president and CEO, but did not own the firm.

The ABA Journal regrets the errors.

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