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"How can you tell when a lawyer is lying? Their lips move."

"How many solicitors does it take to change a light bulb? None, they'd rather keep their clients in the dark."

Solicitors tend to have a bad reputation among the general public and are often the butt of the joke. This can seriously hurt businesses that don't do anything to prove their doubters wrong. For that reason, it's essential that legal firms build trust amongst potential clients.

Nowhere is this more important than on the internet. If a law firm has a website, it is competing for custom in the search engines with thousands of similar companies. The site needs to first attract visitors and then make sure they stay there and go on to contact the company with their legal issues, whatever they may be.

However, it only has a short amount of time to do so. Web users are impatient - if they don't like what they see within a couple of seconds of landing on a website, they will be happy to move on to the next solicitor's website, hoping it can provide what they are looking for.

And a large portion of the responsibility for succeeding in showing visitors a specific website - and consequently law firm - is the one for them, lies with the content.

Content on Legal Websites: How to Get it Right

Copy plays an integral role on any website, but on a legal website it is extremely important, as it is one of the main ways of persuading visitors that the law firm in question has impeccable values and is in no way similar to the stereotypes described in lawyer jokes.

So what do you need to consider when writing copy for a legal website?

  • Accommodate - Always make sure you write for your target audience - the public, not your peers. It might be very interesting for colleagues and others in the legal sector to read about the ins and outs of complex legislation, but the majority of visitors find any legal jargon boring and difficult to understand and end up heading to a website and law firm they can actually comprehend. People don't want to be patronised or feel they are intellectually inferior; they want to be spoken to on their level.
  • Dispel the stereotypes - Equally, dispelling any notion that your solicitors are hard-nosed, selfish and [insert stereotypical adjective here] is extremely important. You need to highlight that your lawyers go about their job with the sole aim of achieving the desired result for clients. That they are friendly, approachable and sympathetic. That they will explain in simple terms the legal process they have to go through. That they will be transparent with costs. That they are not 'ambulance chasers'. And so on.
  • Convey your USP - A unique selling point (USP) is what sets your company apart from the competition. It could be a fantastic heritage. A specialism in a specific part of the law. Friendly and fun employees. Close ties with the local community. Whatever it is, your copy needs to convey it so you can show your firm isn't just run-of-the-mill.
  • Call to Action - Your copy's objective is to turn visitors into clients. However, you need to give them a few pointers and reasons to get in touch with the help of a call to action or two. A call to action is simply a message that urges the reader to take action, a basic example being "call now". Outline in your calls to action the benefits people will enjoy as a result of contacting the firm and make them as visible as possible - it's often effective to place one in the first and last paragraph of copy.

Get it right and your website will be more engaging and generate more enquiries - best of luck.