Three Ways to Incorporate Substantive (But Reader-Friendly) Legal Discussion Into Your Website Content

One of the most important components of a strong content strategy for lawyers is to include legally substantive material throughout your website. Finding a balance between readability and legal substance can be difficult, so we describe three ways to help you find that balance. First, focus on a few basic rule statements. Second, give real-life (or hypothetical) examples illustrating the application of the law that a prospective client can relate to. Finally, explain why a reader should take action.

Balance ScaleMany attorneys who are working to stay ahead of the curve in the realm of online marketing understand the importance of adding (and continuing to add) high-quality written content to their law firm websites and blogs. Sources within the search engine marketing (SEM) industry have consistently identified substantive, original, and authoritative content as a key component of a successful search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. What may be less clear is how to effectively  incorporate this kind of narrative into your marketing materials when the subject matter at issue (such as the practice of law) can easily become too academic or complex.

At first glance, developing written content that describes your legal services in a reader-friendly manner for the general public, but that still meets the recommended substantive content standards may seem like a daunting task. However, following the three tips below can help you strike that balance, thereby potentially improving your website rankings, establishing you as a knowledgeable legal professional, and ultimately developing your business by attracting new clients.

1. Highlight a Few Basic Rule Statements

As a practicing attorney, you are familiar with the legal nuances of your field. You also understand that the amount of information and analysis that goes into any given case can quickly become overwhelming. Particularly if your goal is to explain complex legal concepts in a succinct manner to members of the public who may not have legal training, describing your practice effectively can seem like a significant challenge.

The good news is that picking and explaining a few of the basic rules that apply to your practice area can provide you with a solid start in conveying useful information to prospective clients, as well as optimizing your content for search engines.

For example, if your practice is focused on car accident cases, it would make sense to include a brief discussion of general negligence principles on any website pages that you are dedicating to that case type (making sure to vary the wording across pages—see this earlier post for a discussion of the dangers of copying and pasting). You can use this space to explain key elements like duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages. If you have a criminal law practice, explaining available defenses and constitutional rights that a defendant may invoke in the event of an arrest would also be helpful. You can include citations to a few relevant statutes or cases as well.

The bottom line is that in describing your practice, you don’t necessarily need to go into every potential legal issue that could arise in a given case. Indeed, while we recommend making your practice area pages sufficiently long, it does not necessarily help you to draft excessively long or complicated narratives. Keeping it simple by sticking to a few key concepts can help you describe your services to prospective clients in a meaningful way while incorporating sufficiently substantive content for SEO purposes.

2. Give Examples That Prospective Clients Can Relate To

Alongside your explanation of the primary legal concepts that may apply in your practice area, it can be helpful to provide real world examples of how those rules operate. For example, if you are describing the legal elements of a car accident case, you could explain that a driver’s duty of care amounts to a duty to drive responsibly and safely. Distracted driving, speeding, or driving while intoxicated could each constitute a breach of that duty. If an injured victim can demonstrate the requisite causal link between that kind of breach by another driver and any quantifiable damages they have suffered, then that victim can potentially prevail in a negligence lawsuit against that driver. If you represent clients charged with DUI offenses, you could explain what a defendant’s rights are after being taken into custody at a sobriety checkpoint.

In sum, while it’s important to address the substance of the applicable legal rules in your content, the discussion also needs to be relatable to your readers. Breaking down the basics and describing how those standards actually apply to people’s lives can go a long way toward demystifying the legal process for prospective clients, and beefing up the quality of the content on your site.

3. Explain Why Readers Should Take Legal Action

In keeping with the importance of explaining the legal issues that may be involved in a particular case, you also need to give prospective clients a reason to take action, or communicate the potential benefits of asserting their legal rights. In the personal injury context, this can take the form of explaining what kinds of damages may be available in a given case. In the criminal defense context, this can mean describing ways to have charges reduced or dismissed. A family law attorney may want to explain the way spousal support or child custody laws function in their jurisdiction.

As described in a previous post, it is critical that you carefully check your state’s rules of professional responsibility before including this kind of content. Any statement (including case results and client testimonials) that could be construed as guaranteeing a particular outcome for prospective clients can subject you to professional discipline. Additionally, if you offer contingent fee arrangements, you may need to clearly state that clients could still be liable for costs in the event of a successful financial recovery. However, if you make sure to include all necessary disclaimers and comply with any other ethics rules that apply in your state, describing what a prospective client may be able to obtain according to the law by engaging your services can not only help to increase a reader’s interest in your practice, but also potentially improve your site’s rankings by explaining the relevant legal rules.

Now that you have gotten your prospective client’s attention by unpacking a few of the basic legal rules that may apply to their case and explaining why they should take legal action, an important final step is to provide them with a hassle-free means of contacting you. If you offer a free consultation or have a toll-free phone number, including that information in a visible manner in the text (as well as in your page design) is a good idea. A prominently displayed email contact form is also critical. Again, double check to confirm that any descriptions of your practice or rates, as well as any statements regarding whether and to what extent contacting you via your website creates an attorney-client relationship or duty of confidentiality, comply with your state’s professional responsibility rules.

In sum, regularly drafting and adding original, legally substantive written content to your firm’s website may seem like a tall order. However, by applying the pointers explained above, you can do so, helping to improve your firm’s online visibility and to develop your practice over time.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from Justia Inc. or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

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