Guys! It’s not about you.
After having worked for two law firms and speaking to lots of my legal-sector friends, one thing is very clear.
Clients are deeply suspicious of solicitors.
There’s still very much a reputation that solicitors are disproportionately wealthy folk who are out to make as much money as they possibly can.
There are two sides to this. Firstly, law firms are out to make as much money as they can because they’re businesses and that’s a route to growth. And secondly, clients see the terrifying hourly rates of solicitors but don’t see how they got to those rates.
To the client, it feels as though solicitors all speak a deliberately opaque language, take their money and hide away in their glass-fronted firms pushing paper around.
Simply, they feel excluded from the process.
Nobody likes feeling excluded. Especially when they’re paying thousands of pounds for the privilege.
A quick look at the average firm’s communication methods
I’ve had a look at three large law firms in my area, at their web copy and their general tone of voice.
And every single one shouts the same thing.
WE are great because of XYZ.
WE did this, that and won the XYZ award
WE try/seek to do XYZ
Um…hello? Yeah, I get it, I know what you do because you’re a law firm.
On one firm’s Family Law page they have nine paragraphs.
Every single one of those paragraphs is about them. Four start with the word ‘we’. Two start with ‘our’. The entire page is about the team.
The word ‘you’ only appears twice in several hundred words of copy and one of those is to say that ‘you’ can book a consultation.
Another couple of law firms use words such as ‘seek’ in their copy. As in, ‘we seek to….’
All of this is not endearing to prospective clients.
The one way law firms can attract more clients
The important thing to remember here is this:
Your law firm’s website is not about you.
It’s about the person reading your website.
They’re not there to listen to you congratulate yourself, they’re in need of some legal help. And that’s seldom a super fun place to be.
So reading web copy that is relentlessly about the law firm is not making them feel like you’re client-based. It makes them feel as though solicitors sit around in expensive suits, scrolling through the Maserati catalogue and laughing about how clients know nothing about The Law.
So if you want to attract clients rather than make them feel intimidated, here is the one way to do it.
Talk to the reader in the language they speak.
This is what that means:
- Use the word ‘you’ not ‘clients’ — The term ‘clients’ is vague and general. The reader isn’t vague and general. They are an individual who needs your help. The abstract group ‘clients’ is not reading your website. One person is. Speak to them. Use the term, ‘you’.
- Ditch the lingo — The legal industry is awash with words that people who haven’t read the Dictionary of Law won’t understand. Using complex legal terms confuses the reader and makes them feel inferior. The proof that someone understands the subject is the ability to put it into simple, clear, non-lingo terms. The reader is not a legal professional but they’re also not stupid. Say what you mean, in language the reader already speaks.
That’s all it is.
When law firms talk to the reader in the language they speak, the reader feels as though they are seen and respected. They trust the firm because the firm isn’t hiding behind convoluted legal terminology and talking about the invisible ‘clients’.
They feel respected and seen because the web copy is talking to them specifically, not filled with self-congratulatory content.
You can still be proud of your achievements, of your amazing teams and their qualifications. You can still support your reader-focused content with a little bit about why you’re a great firm. Hell, have a page titled ‘Things We’re Proud Of’. After all, the reader does want to know they’re in safe hands.
But they don’t come to that conclusion after reading endless pages about your greatness. They come to that conclusion after being seen and respected.
Talk to the individual reader in a language they already speak.
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