I recently laughed out loud when I saw this spoof of a lawyer advertisement online.
It’s for a new lawyer TV show (yes, another one) called Franklin & Bash. Unfortunately, it is close to the reality of how some attorneys market their law firms. (Law books? Check. Snarky lawyers? Check. Ugly green marble? Double check.)
We see clichés like this all the time. Law firms spend thousands — sometimes tens of thousands — of dollars on a new website, only to spoil it by slapping on a giant photo of a gavel. Sigh.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you are a lawyer struggling to convey your firm’s mission and reputation through photography, here are a few simple alternatives to try. (A good web design company should have access to hundreds of thousands of stock photos and, if they are anything like PaperStreet, they help you select from them for free. Better yet, go custom.)
Show Your Personality
If someone has found your website, chances are they were searching for it on Google, either by typing in their legal need (say, Florida probate attorney) or you firm name. Either way, this means they already know you are a lawyer. There is no need to hit them over the head with obvious lawyer images, like scales of justice. If you are struggling because your law firm serves a wide variety of clients across multiple practice areas, instead focus on something else specific — like your firm personality:
Focus on Your Client
Instead of images that focus on your firm (“Courthouse steps! Get it? We go to court!”) why not feature images that focus on your clients? This is a no-brainer for firms that serve particular business industries — manufacturing, agriculture, etc. Here’s one of our clients who specializes in cruise line defense:
Focus on Your (or Your Client’s) Product
Obvious examples of this would be real estate photos for a real estate lawyer or technical photos for intellectual property attorneys. Even better, incorporate technical drawings and architectural blueprints that have a compelling, graphic quality.
If you have multiple products or practice areas, you don’t have to pick just one. Simply make sure that the photos are similar enough in style and tone to be grouped together. Putting them all in black and white, or sepia, is one way to do this easily.
Focus on Your Heritage
If your firm is lucky enough to have a long history, flaunt it. If you don’t have any old internal photos, visit your local library, historical society or even the Library of Congress online at http://www.loc.gov/pictures/ for some ideas. Classic black and white photos of your community from around the time your firm was founded can stand alone, or be juxtaposed against modern photos, to communicate that you are traditional and established, yet have kept up with the times.
Tell a Story
Too many lawyer websites are boring – which is ironic because every lawsuit is the result of conflict, and conflict is the key element of storytelling. What is the main conflict your clients face? Feature photos that illustrate this.
Some of the hardest law firms to illustrate without resorting to clichés are those that represent businesses in general (or worse, the public in general) across dozens of divergent practice areas. If your website currently features people in suits carrying briefcases and shaking hands, you know what I mean.
In such cases, the answer isn’t easy enough to break down in a quick blog post. It requires you — and your web designer/marketing team — to sit down and identify what specific strength you want to convey and who exactly you want to convey it to. This could require hard choices. But it is important to make them.
Otherwise, you’ll resort to those tired old clichés and end up lumped with all the lawyers at Franklin & Bash.
(To check out the show’s hilarious promos, go to www.weretotallylawyers.com. The “Hot Tub” one is my personal favorite.)