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Bar News - June 8, 2007

Law Firm Technology: Firms Invest in Web Site Infrastructure, But Not E-Marketing Support


Major US law firms spend heavily on designing and operating their Web sites, but their investments are not heavily supported with spending designed to drive traffic to the site, according to The Survey of Law Firm E-Marketing Practices. The study, published by Primary Research Group, describes emerging law firm policies on Web site development; use of blogs; e-newsletters; Web site sponsorships; banner advertising; and other Web marketing practices. Forty law firms contributed data to the report.


Although mean spending on Web site overhauls topped $40,000 per firm, support spending often lagged. In many categories of e-marketing, just a few firms accounted for as much as half of all spending by the law firms in the sample. Knowledge of e-marketing techniques was highly fragmented, with heavy investment by some firms in a technology that they were familiar with, but little or no investment in related technologies.


The report showed that, overall, law firms are still feeling their way in e-marketing. Reports findings include:


  • Slightly less than 20 percent of the firms in the sample published their own blogs. Firms with 20 or more distinct practice groups were the most likely to publish blogs, and nearly 40 percent of the firms in this category did so.
  • Only 16.67 percent of firms have a policy of surfing the Web to market the firm’s opinions and prowess through legal blogs (by responding to postings, or making commentaries, in such blogs to demonstrate legal expertise or in some way promote the law firm).
  • More than half of the firms in the sample hired a consulting firm when they overhauled (or initially created) their firm’s Web site. Less than 12 percent of firms in the sample did most of the Web site design or overhaul work in-house, and these were mostly smaller firms.
  • Less than 10 percent of the firms in the sample outsourced their Web site maintenance, and these were exclusively firms with less than 35 lawyers, of which nearly 43 percent outsourced Web site maintenance.
  • Close to 60 percent of the firms in the sample published e-newsletters, as did nearly 90 percent of the firms with 200 lawyers or more.
  • Mean spending on electronic press release services was also relatively modest, with mean annual spending averaging slightly less than $536.
  • Nearly 58 percent of the firms in the sample use opt-in e-mail marketing to promote the law firm.
  • Most firms have not used banner advertising though, perhaps surprisingly, more than 30 percent plan to increase spending on banner ads. Two-thirds of firms in the sample that have more than 20 distinct practice groups plan to increase spending on banner ads.

           Only 12.5 percent of the firms in the sample have paid search engines for higher search engine placement, a practice that was more common among smaller than larger firms.

           More than 32 percent of the firms in the sample say that it is “likely” or “very likely” that within the next two years that they will hire a consultant to help the firm to appear higher in search engine rankings.

           Less than 3 percent of the firms in the sample have ever done a podcast to help market the law firm.


Some of the characteristics of the 40 firms in the sample are:


           The mean number of partners per firm in the sample was 90.92 with a maximum of 379;

           The mean number of lawyers per firm was 176.38 with a maximum of 953;

           The mean number of offices per firm was 6.24; and

           The mean number of distinct practice groups was 13.63.


For more information on the survey or the report, The Survey of Law Firm E-Marketing Practices (ISBN 1-57440-082-7, $295), go to


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