The Intendance Fast 50 – the industry-standard benchmark for law firms’ websites – is published today. Addleshaw Goddard, one of the biggest losers in last year’s Fast 50 survey, this year topped the rankings with its brand-new site, beating off stiff competition from the likes of Linklaters, Maclay Murray & Spens and last year’s winner, Wragge & Co.

Published annually, the Fast 50 survey subjects the websites of Britain’s 50 most successful law firms to rigorous scrutiny in four categories – Content, Design, Usability and Marketing. Addleshaw’s win demonstrates an admirable turnaround from its performance last year.

The Winners

Last year’s overall winner, Wragge & Co, once again wins in the content category but loses a few points on design. Linklaters has the best website within the magic circle and shares the Marketing winning position with Addleshaw Goodard, but as in 2006, it falls down on usability. SJ Berwin’s slick, attractive site once again wins the design category. Maclay Murray & Spens has an excellent website with no outstanding weaknesses, but it falls just short of the winning mark. Wedlake Bell excels in the usability category but does not build on this advantage by making its website attractive in other ways.

The Losers

The survey also reveals that some of Britain’s most respected law firms – including Macfarlanes; Weightmans; HBJ Gateley Wareing; Dickson Minto; and Withers – have websites that give a generally poor impression, turning off clients and making these firms appear unattractive to graduates and lateral hires. The very worst law firm website, which belongs to Holman, Fenwick & Willan, is scheduled for replacement.

“This year’s findings reveal a blistering pace of improvement in the quality of law firms’ websites over the last 12 months,” says James Tuke, head of Intendance Research. “Last year’s runner-up, Simmons & Simmons, has long had an excellent website – one that has won numerous awards over the years and has been regularly cited as an example of excellence.”

“In 2006, its 80% overall rating was very nearly enough to claim overall victory, yet Simmons’s creditable 75% in this year’s survey barely keeps the firm in the top ten. Eight other firms have overtaken this bellwether of excellence and ten more law firms are snapping at its heels.”

The winners – Top 10 websites

Addleshaw Goddard (81%) The joint winner for Marketing, in Top 5 for Content, Top 10 for Usability and Design

Wragge & Co
(80%) The winner for Content, in Top 5 for Usability, Top 10 for Marketing, weaker on Design

Maclay Murray & Spens
(80%) In Top 5 for Design and Marketing, Top 10 for Content and Usability

Linklaters
(79%) The joint winner for Marketing, Top 5 for Design, Top 10 for Content, but poor for Usability

SJ Berwin
(79%) The winner for Design, in Top 5 for Marketing and Top 10 for Usability, but poor for Content

Clifford Chance
(77%) In Top 5 for Content and Marketing, weaker for Usability and Design

Berwin Leighton Paisner
(77%) In Top 5 for Content, Top 10 for Usability, weaker on Design and Marketing

Field Fisher Waterhouse
(76%) In Top 10 for Design and Marketing, slightly weaker for Content and Usability

Lewis Silkin
(75%) In Top 5 for Design, weaker on Content and Usability, poor for Marketing

Simmons & Simmons
(75%) In Top 10 for Content and Marketing, weaker for Usability and especially Design

The losers – bottom 10 websites

Travers Smith (59%) Low for all, in Bottom 10 for Content and Marketing

TLT Solicitors
(59%) Low for all, in Bottom 10 for Content and Design

Clyde & Co
(58%) Low for all, in Bottom 10 for Usability and Design

Macfarlanes
(57%) Low for all, in Bottom 10 for Usability and Design

Trowers & Hamlins
(57%) Low for Design, in Bottom 10 for Content and Marketing

Weightmans
(57%) Low for Usability and Design, in Bottom 10 for Content and Marketing

HBJ Gateley Wareing
(56%) Low for Usability and Design, bottom for Marketing

Dickson Minto
(53%) In Top 10 for Design but low for Usability an Marketing and bottom for Content

Withers
(46%)  In Bottom 10 for all

Holman Fenwick & Willan
(38%) In Bottom 5 for all and bottom for Usability and Design

• The websites of these 50 firms were reviewed during February 2007; our report therefore does not reflect any changes made to websites since the date of reviewing. Each website was independently assessed by at least two reviewers and rated on a total of 73 criteria, grouped under four categories:
Content
Usability
Design
Marketing

The scores were weighted using a system of importance based on the reviewers’ extensive experience of website analysis in a number of professional service sectors, and an overall percentage score derived for each website.