Charles Christian’s legalit & new media blog

And you thought I was exaggerating about cobweb sites! At this week’s NetLaw Media Strategic Leadership Forum event in London, the entrepreneur and CEO of Hamilton Bradshaw (and former Dragons Den TV series panellist) James Caan said he was amazed to discover some of the law firms he discussed equity investments with had websites that clearly hadn’t been updated for two or three years!

Caan, incidentally, eventually invested in Midlands firm Knights Solicitors, which he aims to grow into a top 100 firm within three years. Let’s hope he never encountered another Midlands law firm that actually won a local newspaper award for its website, despite the fact its home page contained a picture of a partner who’d died six months previously but was still there because nobody knew how to amend the site.

OK, so the guaranteed way to prevent cobweb sites is to ensure the home page – which may be the only page visitors to your site ever look at before moving on – is regularly refreshed. And, the simplest way to do this is by having an easy to update news section. Sure, we know you are running a law firm, not publishing business but it should not be beyond your capabilities to update the site at least once a week, particularly as modern sites are increasing built around easy-to-update blogging platforms such as WordPress (which is also what we use on this site).

So what is stopping you? It’s not as if there is a shortage of topics to write about!

I think one of the issues is psychology – the lawyer mindset, coincidentally a topic that received a lot of coverage at the recent Janders Dean Legal Knowledge & Innovation Conference in Australia. Faced with a writing project of any sort, the lawyer (or their marketing department/business development or KM team) goes into Law School mode and begins planning out a blog posting of such length and complexity that it would impress a Supreme Court judge.

Don’t! Nobody is going to read such a missive. Keep it short and punchy – it need only be two or three paragraphs long. For a great example of how to do this, check out Seth Godin’s Blog at http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/

Godin is a US marketing guru whose blog posts are worth reading for the content however it is the brevity of his style I’m more interested in here, with some of his posts little longer than a tweet on Twitter (and we’ll be looking at Twitter next time). The key message here is what you post on the website does not have to be a lengthy missive. Keep it short, make it snappy – and the more regularly you update the site the better.