The case for better online management at law firms

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Attorneys are leveraging social networking to attract new clients, including creating websites, blogs and news sites highlighting a practice specialty. While the do-it-yourself strategy is driving results, it is leaving attorneys vulnerable to negative exposure. This illustrates the importance of investing in search and online reputation management (ORM).

A fully optimized keyword research program designed to maximize spend and drive pertinent traffic, along with a robust ORM system can provide lawyers and firms with continuously improved monitoring of and protection from negative user posts. It can also enhance positioning of positive and negative results on the first page of major search engines, generate online buzz through blogs and reviews and offer better communications management of social media sites.

Someone looking to hire an attorney will likely conduct a Google search. Would you retain a counselor with negative reviews from former clients listed on page one? Would you trust a firm with an outdated blog and low approval ratings? Lawyers marketing their services are selling a brand to potential clients. One negative review can drastically alter brand value. Incorporating search and ORM initiatives will establish positive messages and keep them in the forefront. Attorneys and firms should be as mindful of their first page search rankings as they are of their national law rankings.

So why aren't more lawyers listening? The sticking point is social media. Social networking sites are routinely restricted at law firms, the assumption being they slow productivity. This is one example of the traditional law firm chain of command at work. Senior partners rule the roost followed by junior partners, associates, paralegals and support staff. Often, the appreciation and knowledge of technology is in direct opposition with the hierarchy. Support staffers and paralegals often prove the most tech savvy. Associates and junior partners focus primarily on client procurement. Senior partners sign the checks. That's important to remember when marketing search services to this group.

Firms interested in capitalizing on lawyers' increased need for an online strategy should discuss the technological and process benefits of search and ORM with support staffers while outlining their cost-saving benefits to attorneys and senior partners. By making the case for search and ORM in terms of work and cost efficiency, lawyers will almost assuredly embrace social networking and Search outsourcing without objection. 

Adam Riff is general manager of search at MediaWhiz, an online performance marketing agency that offers SEO and PPC management options.

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