Nobles Law Firm

The Practical Lawyer: Avvo – the law goes social

Avvo_logoBack in the mid-1990s when I started practicing law, the Internet was just coming into its own and attorneys generally didn’t utilize it very well.

By the end of the decade, a lot of attorneys had homes on the Internet, but they were static sites that offered little to no interaction. You usually had a little bit of information about the firm, a photo of a lawyer grinning or looking contemplative at a desk situated in front of a bunch of law books, contact information, a list of areas of practice and little else.

Things have changed and the fact is an Internet presence is increasingly important for attorneys. According to a 2012 Google poll conducted by the law firm of Moses & Rooth in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., 21.9 percent of the respondents said they found attorneys through search engines such as Google, Yahoo or Bing while another 10.5 percent find lawyers through other places on the Internet. That sounds about right, and here is an interesting aside – the majority of respondents (34.6 percent) are referred to attorneys by asking a friend, 20.1 percent get referrals from their own attorneys and 10.8 percent still consult the phone book.

Things have changed quite a bit, then. I well remember when a big phone book ad was considered essential. The prices of those things has dropped with their popularity in a lot of areas over the years, and that’s not an altogether bad thing.

Still, the aforementioned survey underscores the fact that a good Internet presence can lead to some clients. While I shelled out the cash to host my site at NoblesLawFirm.com, I have had some luck by claiming a free profile at www.Avvo.com. The heart of that site is a forum on which people with legal problems can ask questions and real, licensed attorneys can answer them. There have been forums like that in the past, of course, but what makes Avvo somewhat unique is that it is a very active site and I’ve actually gotten a couple of calls from lawyers looking to send business my way.

One great feature of Avvo is that it strives to be a legal directory of every licensed attorney in the nation. If you have a law license, you have a profile there and can claim it for free. Once you do that, you can specify your areas of specialization, connect your profile to your social media accounts, let people know how to get in touch with you and even submit a legal guide or two if you want to show off your expertise and attract some business in the process.

Attorneys looking to increase their visibility on the Internet may want to claim a free profile and see if being on Avvo helps. Here’s a word of caution, though – the folks at Avvo will call you after you claim your profile and try to sell you packages designed to increase your visibility on the site.

That all confirms that at least one thing hasn’t changed over the years. As soon as you become a lawyer, people will show up and try to sell you things.

This column was authored by Ethan C. Nobles and originally appeared in the Aug. 5, 2014, edition of the Daily Record in Little Rock.

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