In today’s edition of ALM’s The Legal Intelligencer, reporter Gina Passarella writes on Major Changes Could Be in Store for Law Firm Websites. She spoke to me about the state of law firm websites in general and the new K&L Gates Hub in particular.
K&L Gates describes their new “hub” as “a digital destination for timely insight on critical issues at the intersection of business and law. Whether you are in a legal department or are a C-suite executive, we hope you will find our current insight on industry and legal trends to be a valuable resource.” It is not designed to replace the regular law firm website, but provide extensive content on a few topics for a very specific audience.
Websites have come a long, long way since the first one I worked on–for Morgan Lewis–in 1996. I found this screen capture online from 2000, back when mlb.com belonged to the law firm and not to Major League Baseball. In 2000, I was proud to have worked on one of the first unique components on a large law firm website–HSRScan–which was a searchable database of letters interpreting the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (the HSR Act) and its regulations. At the time, moving beyond attorney bios, news, practice area descriptions and maybe some dynamic recruiting content was quite unique. I loved that HSRScan was a database of content that literally did not exist anywhere else.
While sites have come a long way in sophistication and content, the reality is that most today are extremely similar–with the same databases cranking out the same data, and the usual array of bells & whistles. K&L Gates does a nice job organizing the enormous amount of content that they harness among their attorneys, offices and practice groups. Few firms are going to have that level of depth, and fewer are going to have the staffing resources to build it and keep it up. With a 100-person marketing and business development team, they probably have the bandwidth to keep the hub up to date and growing.
For those few firms without a 100-person marketing department, you might be focused on other elements of the Internet–strong use of social media sites, mobile-friendly sites (a must), SEO (when applicable) and various combinations of the same Hub-type content–videos, webinars, blogs and client alerts. The ship has sailed on truly unique law firm websites and blogs, but that does not mean the same elements can’t be reconfigured in a different delivery mechanism. And just because it is not unique does not mean that it is not a necessity.