Law Firm Website Contract Gotchas: Demand Access to your Data!

Services: Law Firm Website Design . SEO . Internet Marketing . Law Firm Marketing Guide . Content Marketing . PPC

So you are about to embark on a new website for your law firm. Great!  Before you sign a contract, demand the ability to export your new website data at any time — and not to just get scanned html files. 

With that, you’ll need to ask: 

  1. What happens when your contract ends? 
  2. What format do you get your website? 
  3. Is it just a scanned html downloaded version of your site from some scraping bot?  
  4. Or is the actual website database, files, and content system in an exportable, transferable format?  

Pro tip:  You want a database export of all your data.  If you only get a html copy of your website, then how should I put this . . . 

  • You’re in a mess;
  • You’re in hot water;
  • You’re in a tight spot;
  • You’re out of luck;
  • You’re in a pickle;
  • You’re in a jam; or
  • You are DOOMED

. . . in short, you messed up the contract negotiation. You need to demand a database export in the contract. 

If you are not careful, you may end up with a lot of work to rebuild your website into a new platform. Always demand in your contract a database export of all your content. Don’t settle for just an html version of your site. That is practically useless in a transfer or rebuild. Plus, anyone can get that version anytime.  You need to have a database export of your content. 

Ideally your vendor will provide access to the actual database in SQL or CSV format. It should not be anymore than 1 hour for any competent developer to export all tables from a standard database. If they are really helpful, your vendor will let you know how the fields interact, but typically that can be figured out too. 

If a vendor talks about proprietary, laugh or giggle at them. Proprietary formats can still be exported. They just don’t want to do that for you.  Further, there is nothing proprietary about data fields for a headline, post text, categories, authors, date, image, tags, and other fields.  These have all been around for 25+ years. 

Why demand a digital export? Simply time and money. If you don’t get a copy of the website in export format for the text, then your 550+ blog posts, 20+ practice areas, 10+ attorney bios, and 25+ other general pages, will all have to be copied and pasted manually into a new content platform. Ugh, what a pain! What a waste!

What should be 30 minutes of a data import/export becomes 30+ hours of work. A data transfer should 100% be automated by now.  The only reason to not do this is vendor lock-in. Don’t allow vendor lock-in to cost you more time.  On a human level, don’t waste some poor soul’s life of cutting/pasting content for an entire week.  There are simply better things to do. 

For a non-shameless plug, at PaperStreet:

  • We build all our websites in WordPress.  
  • You have 100% access to your data at any time. 
  • You can transfer easily. 
  • We can export your data anytime you want. 
  • The site is truly yours. 

Don’t fall for the ruse of having to recreate your website from some HTML files that your prior vendor gave you.  You should be able to seamless export data from any website to a new one. Every modern website is in a database and has the ability to export.  

Demand that yours is before you sign a deal.

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