Survey of law firms effectiveness in promoting Dispute Resolution
Survey of law firms effectiveness in promoting Dispute Resolution
Survey to measure how law firms promote DR
and how well they do it:
How does your firm measure up?
I believe there are two reasons why the majority of law firms I observe who offer dispute resolution, fail to proactively promote it. I think it’s about time someone pointed them out.
But first I need to illustrate the extent of the problem. So I’ve started a survey and begun with 4 law firms in the South East, measuring the amount of online content they dedicate to DR. I’ve also included the number of relevant videos that appear for each firm during an ‘on page one’ google search. The results were interesting, and I hope that other firms will want to do the survey for themselves – full guidelines and the results are below.
The two reasons for the failure to promote DR
The first reason sounds too cynical, but there may be truth in it. It just might be that law firms do not feel committed to dispute resolution and feel no obligation to encourage more of it to happen – at least not enough to direct their marketing spend in that direction.
This could be why it is not unusual for a Mediator or Collaborative Lawyer to say the words: “I’d like to do more DR and to promote it – but the firm just won’t spend the money.”
Now that would make sense if we were talking about spending more than the cost of a meal for one at Pizza Express every week for a year – but we’re not. This is not a financial issue – it is a lack of Will.
But I believe there is another reason too. A more serious one. That the DR professionals themselves are afraid to put their heads above the parapet – outside of the secure comfort of private LI groups – and shout “Hey, come over here – Dispute Resolution is not a tick-box – it actually works!”
Self-promotion does not seem to be included in the Resolution training – and more’s the pity. Which is why you hear some Collaborative Lawyers saying: “There’s not much demand for it” – and totally ignoring the fact that it’s very hard for the public to demand something they don’t even know exists.
This is an uncomfortable truth that some lawyers seem to try to pretend isn’t the case. But it is. Finding out about Collab in a state of emotional upheaval during a MIAMS is just not the same as finding out about it when searching: ‘how to divorce’ on Google in the earlier stages, well before everything starts to go pear-shaped.
So who got the Gold Stars and who got the Raspberries for the survey?
Let me put it in perspective first. This is not a ‘name and shame’ – simply an investigation which I found very useful for myself, and I wanted to share it.
If you would like to survey your own firm, the simple instructions are below, but I wanted to ‘frame’ the results briefly before I tell you what I found.
I used private browsing to get consistent results and simply used a short selection of keyword phrases and recorded the page links that appeared on the first page of google that were focused on dispute resolution. In an effort to be kind, I included the legal firms profiles of their dispute resolution professionals who appeared in the searches, even though some fail to provide actual information about DR on those pages.
I also clicked the video link on google for each DR search to record the number of videos about DR that appeared – which is important, bearing in mind that over half the search traffic is now viewed on mobile devices, and video is a very accessible way to access information (rather than reading small text off your phone).
The selected keywords were: divorce (company name), mediation (company name), collaborative law (company name) and then the number of links of 1 lawyer per firm searched with the terms (name of lawyer) mediator and (name of lawyer) collaborative lawyer.
So far I have surveyed 4 law firms in the South East – naturally including one of my clients who does invest in promoting dispute resolution – and here were the results:
And the winner is?
Not surprisingly, the smaller firm that deals primarily in dispute resolution (O’Sullivan Family Law) faired much better in this survey than a full service firm. But only by 6% more on the number of total links per search page, focused on dispute resolution using the search terms, compared to full service firm Stephen Rimmer LLP.
However, it is worth noting that I was able to include the home page of O’Sullivan Family Law as relevant links because dispute resolution is specifically highlighted (naturally) – but there is no reason why larger firms cannot do the same.
Despite the many excellent videos Jo O’Sullivan has created, she was just topped by Stephen Rimmer LLP who had 31 videos appearing, compared to Jo’s very healthy 29.
Now here come the raspberries.
Obviously, this is only a guide, but I am going to stick my neck out here, and suggest that firms who have a similar score to Mayo Wynne Baxter and Dawson Hart Solicitors, pay attention. You know who you are. You know that sandwiches and conversations in Pod meetings does not compensate for a lack of online marketing of DR by your firm.
I don’t think the two other firms I picked at random are in any way alone in being fairly ineffective in proactively promoting dispute resolution online. And I hope that all firms that measure themselves in this way, will make a concerted effort to make sure that their own scores improve over the following year. And not simply by better search engine optimisation (though that is worth considering) but by sharing useful content via articles and videos that potential clients will find of value.
I’ll let you see the results for those two firms yourself in the data table below, but suffice to say, there was a marked difference between the first two firms surveyed, to the last two, in the number of website pages and videos that were focused upon dispute resolution.
In summary, when a law firm’s name is linked to the word divorce in a google search term, wouldn’t it be grand if – rather than around 30-40% of the page links being focused on DR (as with the top DR promoters) – it was closer to 100%?
I don’t think that will happen while lawyers delude themselves that the public actually understand the true options open to them. By creating worthwhile content and sharing it, not only will they be building a more educated client-base, but they may get more DR work into the bargain.
But is there the Will to do it? Or is the world of online marketing and video still too scary for the more traditional law firms?
I shall let Mediator and Collaborative Lawyer John Stebbing of Stephen Rimmer LLP have the last word:
“It is seriously important that D R professionals drive forward through marketing to share the advantages of DR options with those facing family breakdown and conflict.
DR is imbedded now in the Family Law system, and its role must be applauded by all family law practitioners as reducing stress, cost, and conflict for our clients.
Legal practices have a responsibility to spread the word, so our clients seek DR options first out of choice, not merely to secure a signature on a MIAMS Form.”
For the full data (links on each search) email me and I can send it over: firstname.lastname@example.org
How to use the template
• Use the same keyword phrases replacing (company name) and (solicitor name) where appropriate
• Key word phrases are used ‘incognito’ (Private Browsing) to get consistent and fair results, page 1 of google only.
• Only record pages that were specific to dispute resolution (not simply mentioned on the family law page) and providing some DR information on the page linked to. Nb. I have included profile listings from the firms’ own websites even though in many cases no explanation about the DR practiced by that solicitor is provided.
• Record the number of weblinks relevant directly to DR on the 1st search page, which includes profile listings, articles and videos. There are 10 one each search page.
• Do not include links to LI (only relevant to people who have joined) or sites that provide only contact details and no actual information on the page about dispute resolution (you CAN include profile pages on your company website as long as your DR role is mentioned).
• Video columns are from the Video tab on google search per search term: count only the number of videos about DR linked directly to that firm ie. not generic DR videos.
NB: Even though some of the firms surveyed did have videos on their website pages, they did not necessarily appear individually on the google search pages. (Which means better optimisation is required – eg.popping some relevant keywords into the Youtube tags).
SuzyMillerCreator of Best Way To Divorce. International Divorce Divorce Strategist and TEDx Speaker.
6th March 2022
4th June 2023
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