Law Firm Websites

Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Size Matters, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.

They say that to be competitive in today’s market, branding is key. To do that, one needs a snappy marketing campaign. I mean, think about the marketing genius behind the Shake Weight, or that truly awesome song!

According to an article in the Blog entitled Small Law Firms Take the Lead in Marketing, small firms have, well, taken the lead in marketing. Martindale-Hubbell commissioned a survey to look into the issue of small-firm marketing and concluded that the smallest firms are increasing their spending on marketing, with a focus on internet advertising.

Given this premise, I decided to search the worldwide web for some of the best (or most entertaining) small-firm websites. I found one website that stuck out to me: the home page of a boutique law firm, Edelson McGuire. (ATL previously covered the firm when it gave out free iPads to all employees, both attorneys and staff.)

How do I love the Edelson McGuire site? Let me count the ways….

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Consider the evidence, from the website of Cravath. We’re guessing this change was made a while ago, perhaps when Cravath overhauled its home page last June, but we didn’t notice it until a Cravath alum pointed it out to us just now.

Let’s take a look….

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Geoffrey Fieger

In the past, Above the Law has kindly taken the time to mock provide constructive feedback to firms that choose to take more unconventional approaches to their attorney website photos. Among our favorites have been the “body shots” of Ballard Spahr and Cox Smith.

Today’s installment of bad lawyer photography comes courtesy of a tipster who brought the website of Fieger Law to our attention. Fieger Law is headed up by none other than Geoffrey Fieger, who gained notoriety by repeatedly winning acquittals for Jack Kevorkian, aka Dr. Death, and by obtaining a $25 million verdict in the Jenny Jones case.

But life at Fieger Law isn’t all about trying serious cases. These lawyers have fun while loving the law!

In what I can only guess is an attempt at creativity, Fieger’s website photographer has abandoned all lessons learned in Photo Composition 101 in favor of a more… artistic approach. The result is a collection of lawyers peeking around edges of photos, missing foreheads, and appearing to fall out of frames.

But the fun photography doesn’t end with the off-kilter headshots. Check out some stellar action shots, after the jump….

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Ed. note: Have a question for next week? Send it in to

Dear ATL,

I am a first-year associate tasked with writing my bio page for our website. Do you have any tips on how to write a bio that is not god-awful?

— Autobiography of a Face

Dear Autobiography of a Face,

As a first-year associate, you have no skills or experience that any client reading your bio cares about. Whether you graduated Order of the Crotch Coif or have rudimentary knowledge of Latin is immaterial to whether you can send around the dial-in, make copies or create binders. I know your semester abroad in Seville and internship at Footlocker are important accomplishments to you. But to the outside world, your bio page exists solely to cover the remote possibility that the partner, senior associate and midlevel all die in a plane crash, and the client needs to shoot you an email about getting other people staffed on the project ASAP….

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To borrow a line from Sharon Nichols, I judge you when you have a poor website.

Like it or not, we live in a superficial world where your website is judged on a daily basis — and not just by me. Friends, colleagues, potential employees and most importantly potentially paying clients are all looking at you — watching, judging.

Of course, there’s the old adage that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but do you know why that’s an old adage? Because we all judge books by their cover, and by “book” I mean “your law firm.” But fear not, you of the static, monochromatic firm website that still lists now-departed associates. Your salvation lies in the hands of your beloved managing editor, David Lat — at least partially….

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On Friday, we showed you what might very well be the best law firm website photo of all time. It came to us from the other side of the pond (where it had been noticed by RollOnFriday).

We solicited possible captions, with preference given to ones that would constitute alternative bios for the lawyer in question. You gave us a few good ones, so we decided to turn them into a caption contest….

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Say Cheese!!!

Yesterday our social media columnist, Adrian Dayton, asked you: What’s wrong with your law firm bio?

One possible answer: your photograph (or lack thereof). As law firm marketing consultant Dion Algeri told Adrian, pictures are “extremely important” to attorney bios on law firm websites. Over at Great Jakes, Algeri analyzes the lawyer photos on the websites of ten different law firms: Axiom, Babcock Partners, Boies Schiller, Cravath, Edelson McGuire, Greenberg Traurig, Linklaters, Proskauer, Walkers, and White & Case. He notes a trend: “[F]irms are now recognizing the importance of these images and are investing in more lush and engaging photos.”

We’ve previously explored the world of law firm website photos in the pages of ATL. We’ve poked gentle fun at the body shots at Ballard Spahr and the action shots at Cox Smith. We’ve marveled at the split personalities of lawyers at the Van Winkle Law Firm. We’ve ogled the hotties on the website of Davis Polk.

But we’ve never come across an attorney profile photo as awesome as this one….

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Don’t take it personally. Nobody is perfect, but unfortunately, when it comes to law firm bios — well, most of them stink. They tout the vast accomplishments of the lawyer: where they went to law school, if they graduated with honors, whether they were on law review. Then they often include a laundry list of each and every type of legal matter the attorney has ever dealt with in their life. The main problem is, attorney bios are often created with very little thought into strategy. This is unfortunate, especially considering how important bios are.

Your bio matters to decision makers. Ninety percent of general counsel claim the attorney bios are the most important part of a law firm’s website (2009 Wicker Park Group). Studies have also shown that bios are the most viewed pages on law firm websites, generating over 50% of the page views. If a good bio can help you land one more client this next year, what would that be worth to you? What about five new clients? Perhaps your bio deserves a little more attention than you are giving it.

There are three major problems that plague the bios of law firms, and some of them are pretty easy to fix….

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Managing expectations is a very important skill — when it comes to personal relationships, movie enjoyment, and, of course, dealing with your co-workers and clients.

You need to know how to set boundaries. After you’ve pulled two all-nighters in a row, for example, it’s okay to tell the partner you work for that you just can’t do a third. If you give an inch, your colleague or client will take the proverbial mile.

But has one South Carolina law firm taken boundary-setting too far? Check out the Client Expectations section of the Pincus Family Law website (via Jim Calloway, via ABA Journal):

We do not work on the weekends and do not provide emergency numbers for the weekends. There are times we may look at and answer your email over the weekend, but this is generally the exception and not to be relied upon by you that we are accessible on weekends.

And they don’t do windows, either.

Do not think we are perfect. We make mistakes. We are competent attorneys and paralegals, but we make mistakes. We will correct a mistake if we find it or if you point it out. Please do not yell at us, accuse us of not doing our job, or insult us over a mistake.

And please do not sue us for malpractice. We warned you at the outset that “[w]e make mistakes.”

And that’s not all….

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Back in March, we reported on stealth layoffs at Davis Polk & Wardwell. Stealth layoffs are usually seen as an effort to maintain high attorney utilization rates — and high partner profits. But at genteel, WASPy DPW, long known for its passive-aggressive kinder and gentler firm culture, profits come second to pulchritude.

Everything is beautiful at 450 Lexington — the offices, the stationery, and yes, the attorneys. DPW has long been known for hiring based on beauty as well as brains. So we suspect that their recent stealth layoffs were just an “office beautification” project: lay off the less attractive associates, to increase the average hotness of the remaining lawyers. (Lord only knows what the denizens of the recently closed Frankfurt office looked like.)

A few years ago, we wrote about Davis Polk’s reputation for hiring aesthetically appealing attorneys in the New York Observer:

Bar Belles: According to Rob, a 2L at NYU, one firm that’s in demand this season is Davis Polk & Wardwell. Why? “I’ve heard they have good-looking associates.”

Some things never change. When I interviewed a decade ago, Davis was already known as a bastion of beauty on aesthetically challenged Lexington Avenue. It was the firm of choice for the prom queen and king of my law school class — the editor in chief of the law journal, a luminous doll-like beauty with a vast family fortune, and her Abercrombie-handsome future husband. They were joined at Davis by enough comely Asian females to cast Memoirs of a Geisha.

And hotness matters more at Davis Polk these days, now that their redesigned website features attorney photos (for some, but not all, of the lawyers — perhaps it was an “opt in” regime?). From an observant tipster:

Have you noticed that Davis Polk’s new website has pictures of attorneys? Weren’t they once afraid of stalkers? Glad they’ve gotten over that. Or perhaps their associate corps is simply uglier now.

We think not. If you visit the Davis Polk — er, DavisPolk — website, and surf through the attorney profiles, you’ll still find hotties to spare.

Evidence of hotness, plus additional analysis, after the jump.

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