In the past few months we have been working on DuoLaw - a Drupal base build that can be used for just about any law firm. We took our knowledge of law firms, an area where we have a lot of experience, and created a basic installation profile that would account for 90 percent of site functionality out of the box, while still allowing for additional custom elements and custom design. We focused our efforts on creating a solution that would work for firms with anywhere from 5-500 employees.
Here area few important areas we focused on.
Arguably the most important area of your site, attorneys are why your firm exists in the first place. The most important thing to show for the attorneys is their experience. We created a basic filter that would allow for a few different ways to narrow down results on an attorney search, with a focus on practice and industry experience. This will allow users to find the right cross section of experience, without having to dig too deep.
For attorney bio pages, we focused on relevant contact information and experience with fields that can be added or removed if necessary. The bio pages also pull in relevant news and links to practice and industry information to help the user find answers to any additional questions they might have. We also included a “Get Introduced” form that helps the user contact the attorney, without feeling intimidated. The form itself can be sent to whoever it needs to - be it the attorney, attorney assistant, or office manager. This solution can be easily customized for each specific office and even attorney.
Practices and Industries
The second most most important area of the site, practices and industries are where users go to figure out exactly where your firm has the most experience. For DuoLaw, we designed one solution that would work for multiple levels of organization.
Some firms may have more generic practices and industries. In this case, we allowed for a basic page with an overview, related attorneys, and related news. For firms with more in-depth org-charts, we have an extra level out of the box that provides an additional layer of organization, allowing for landing pages with base level and sublevel practices and industries. This allows for more detailed information to be presented, if applicable.
Law firms legally can not say they are the best. They need to show it, which is why the News and Blog sections are so important to building credibility and showing experience. Creating a news hub allowed us to encompass a variety of resources (news, outside publications/press, awards, and more), while allowing for easy expansion for more categories. We also included a filter to allow the user to narrow down information, much like how it was treated on the attorney page. In addition to this, the news articles allow for a tagging system that can pull specific content to various spots on the site, including the home, practice, industries, and attorney pages.
Interlinking Between Site Areas
One of the biggest challenges of law firm sites is having relevant information show up in the right area. With our build, we created a system that would allow you to tag posts in multiple ways so they automatically appear in the appropriate section. This allows you to tag things like news articles so they can show up on various attorney, practice, industry, and location pages, as well as spotlight them on the news and home landing pages. This streamlines the entire posting process, eliminating duplicate work and content.
Attorneys function in a similar way, allowing the firm to tag their staff with their relevant experience. The site then pulls the tagged experience to give users a fast and efficient user experience, with a focus on finding search results quickly and easily.
The Home Page
If you go sign up for a demo of DuoLaw, you might notice one of the most important pages is missing. We opted not to include a home page in the build because we wanted each engagement to have something unique. This allows for each law firm to create a design and a strategy that works for them. It also eases the nerves of the site being too “template-y.”
We will work with your team for a discovery to make sure we have what you need, and create a homepage that matches your brand and strategy.
All Around Customization
In addition to the home page, the entire style of the site is easily customizable. That means we can use your branding, fonts, imagery, language, and more to make this experience unique to your firm. Nothing is set in stone, which adds more freedom than traditional templates other websites offer, while keeping the advanced functionality of a full Drupal build.
One of the main things we learned from our experience is that law firms need marketing, though they might not know it. With this in mind, we made sure to create areas that had custom forms and custom CTAs that are used to drive interactions and conversions. These were subtly used around the site to not only push for contacting the firm, but also to help and encourage the user to ask questions and start a discussion.
Why Is This Important To My Law Firm?
Your law firm site is the face of your organization. Law firms, regardless of size, are tasked with providing information and showing credibility just like all other websites, only there are a few additional points (and legal restrictions) to keep in mind. The focus on education and experience is key to showing the value of your firm. The organization of the website allows the user to find what they need in a very specific manner, moving quickly through different areas of the site and search options. This site organization, plus a beautifully designed face and easy to use back-end, can bring most law firms quickly up to date, without the cost of a full design and site build. Using what we learned though a number of projects, we were able to create a product that will work while saving time and money.