With more and more consumers searching for attorneys online, the importance of website and Internet marketing is more important than ever, members of the Solo, Small and Mid-Size Firm Management Committee were recently told.

Laura Powers, chief marketing officer for Furia Rubel Communications, and attorney Harper J. Dimmerman were the presenters at the Nov. 20 program “Navigating Avvo and Other Online Lawyer Rating Sites.”

Powers said more than 95 percent of consumers turn to the Internet when looking for a lawyer. Failure to take advantage of these marketing sites, many of which are free, leaves you solely relying on other methods of marketing. “Business cards and other methods of marketing have become marginalized,” she said. Te panelists said the online presence you project and the tools you decide to use should be the right fit for you, your practice, and your brand.

Dimmerman and Powers offered opinions and information about Avvo and other law rating sites. Dimmerman said he has been able to grow his practice by taking full advantage of the various marketing tools and opportunities available through sites like Avvo. Dimmerman uses Avvo for his website presence and for sponsored advertising, as well as for the free marketing services. “It is a free for all, we must be wherever we can be these days because price is part of every decision, he said.”

When considering Avvo and other sites, it is important to, “consider whom you want to do business with and construct a presence that shows that is what you are about,” Powers said. Perform a thorough investigation of these sites. If you represent individuals, and not corporate clients, Avvo would be beneficial for you. Consider a site that is easy to navigate, like lawyers.com. Consider what sites and how many sites you want to be present on, and how much time you want to expend in this area.

However, once you become involved on a site you lose a level of control of content. On Avvo you will be subject to public client reviews. No attorney wants to be subject to a negative review but unfortunately almost any attorney, no matter how positive the result might be, can be subjected to negative and unfounded scrutiny. If this occurs, there are methods to dispute the review, but how you respond should be well thought out. In contrast, on your own website, you control the content and how it is presented. Linked In was also recommended.

In choosing sites like Avvo, firstly, you should claim your profile. Take a look at your profile on Avvo and thoroughly fill in your profile details in order to increase your rating on the site. Client reviews apparently do not affect your rating on the site. Also, there is an opportunity to answer questions, but ethical considerations should be evaluated when answering.

Sites like Avvo will encourage leads for you but the quality of the leads may be a consideration. Price of services and how much clients are willing to pay seems to be a recurring issue. Internet sites may exacerbate the issue, but it appears this type of marketing is here to stay and is the way of the future.

Maureen M. Farrell ([email protected]), principal in The Law Offices of Maureen M. Farrell, is an associate editor of
the Philadelphia Bar Reporter.

This article originally appeared in Philadelphia Bar Reporter, January 2015.