I am a family law practitioner in the western suburbs of Chicago. I have been in practice for thirty years. I have two associate attorneys and two staff members. In the past I had other partners but that was many years ago. Over the last few years our business has been declining. Our financial performance last year was terrible and I made less than my associates. If this continues I may have to lay off an associate or two. Recently we have made some improvements to our website but I am not sure we have not done enough. I have noticed that more business seems to be coming from the website and less through referrals. I would appreciate any thoughts your may have.


We are finding that law firms that serve retail consumer clients in practice areas such as personal injury, family law, elder law, and estate planning are becoming more and more dependent on the internet for their business. Family law firms especially are becoming more dependent on the internet for business and a sound internet strategy and investment is crucial for success. This is especially true in the larger cities and metropolitan areas. Less business is coming from traditional referral sources and more from the internet. I have family law clients in your area that tell me they are receiving ninety percent or more of their business from the internet.

A few suggestions that you might want to consider:

  • Ensure that you are working with a top notch website designer and provider that is focused on law firms.
  • Avoid firms that are too small and too large. A solo website designer may be in between jobs and be out of business tomorrow. There will be no backup. A very large firm can be a problem as well. Look for a small firm that has been in business for awhile, has fifteen or twenty people, and has a proven track record in working with law firms. Make sure that they offer search engine optimization services and the law firm websites they have done perform well in key search engines.
  • Avoid the cheapest provider. This may be the only and most strategic marketing investment you firm will or needs to make.
  • Make sure your website has adequate social proof in the form of client testimonials, published articles, blogs, etc.
  • The more content you have on the website in the form of articles, etc. the better your website  will perform in search engines such as Google.
  • Have a blog on the website and post at least weekly.
  • Have a firm business page on Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
  • Post to Google business page, LinkeIn, and Facebook at least weekly.
  • Consider videos of your attorneys and client testimonials.
  • Invest in ongoing search engine optimization. (SEO)
  • Have a firm procedure for asking for Google, Yelp, and other reviews at the conclusion of every matter. Ensure there is accountability and that this gets done.
  • Ensure that you are included in key online directories – some maybe free and some charge a fee.

I hope this helps and good luck!

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John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

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