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  • Martindale-Hubbell Congratulates Our New Av Preeminent Peer Rated Attorneys 4/23/18


    Martindale-Hubbell is proud to announce that the following attorneys have achieved a Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating, awarded to only those lawyers with the highest ethical standards and professional ability.

    Congratulations to:

    Only approximately 10% of attorneys have achieved this prestigious honor. For more information on Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings, visit our Ratings and Reviews page. Attorneys who are interested in starting their own peer review process can submit the form below.

    Martindale-Hubbell conducts secure online Peer Review Ratings surveys of lawyers across multiple jurisdictions and geographic locations, in similar areas of practice as the lawyer being rated. Reviewers are instructed to assess their colleagues' general ethical standards and legal ability in a specific area of practice.   The ratings help buyers of legal services identify, evaluate and select the most appropriate lawyer for a specific task at hand. The confidentiality, objectivity and complete independence of the ratings process are what have made the program a unique and credible evaluation tool for members of the legal profession.  The legal community values the accuracy of lawyer peer review ratings because they are determined by their peers – the people who are best suited to assess the legal ability and professional ethics of their colleagues. Peer Review Rating award status can go up or down based on subsequent reviews. Please click on an attorney’s profile link to determine current award status.

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  • 5 Immediate Actions To Implement On Your Website


    Long gone are the days when law firms could publish a website and pay no attention until a change in personnel required an update. Today’s savvy consumers require fast answers to their questions and will quickly bounce off to a competitor if a site does not meet their needs. We’ve listed below five critical tactics to make sure your website conforms with today’s technology and search engine best practices. 

    1. Make your website secure and help your site’s ranking
    Google has made the security of your website visitors a priority and so should you.  In October of 2017, Google announced that it will start penalizing sites that are not secure. When consumers complete a form on your site, they will receive a “Not Secure” warning.   To secure your site, install an SSL certificate (which will cost from $100-$150 for a two-year license).  Once your site is secured:
    • Your domain changes to https://.
    • The privacy of visitors to your site and the information they fill out on the form will be protected
    • Your site is protected from unwanted third-party ads (injections) being displayed
    • Google may give a small ranking boost to secure websites over non-secure websites, which can increase your visibility and website traffic.
    1. Be mobile friendly
    Nearly 60% of all online searches take place on a mobile device; more than 50% of consumers coming to Lawyers.com and Martindale.com do so from a phone or tablet.  Check your website here: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly.  If your site fails the test, you may be losing out on prospects who have no patience with sites they cannot read on their phones. Work with your website designer to make your site responsive or find one that will: Selecting the Right Law Firm Website Design Company.  Make sure you optimize for mobile in the process.
    1. Load quickly
    People want answers to their questions quickly which is why Google includes page speed as part of its ranking algorithm.  Effective July 2018, page speed will become a ranking factor for mobile searches as well.  Run your website through here: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/. Does your website pass? If not, work with your website developer to identify and fix the elements slowing down your site, including optimizing your images for each type of device.
    1. Deliver a great experience and better ranking through ease of use
    The best way to turn visitors into leads is by making it easy to find the additional content on your website that answers their questions. This sounds like common sense, but attorney websites often don’t bother. You can provide great navigation in two ways.
    • Push users to relevant pages through internal links to other pages of your website. For example, if you are a personal injury attorney and someone lands on your homepage, you want to provide them with more information on car accidents, wrongful death, and medical malpractice.  This would be too much information to have on your homepage, so you should mention the topic and then link to each specific practice area landing page for greater detail. 

    Not only is this good for visitors but good for Google and your SEO efforts. Internal links connect your content and give  Google an idea of your website’s structure. The links establish your site’s hierarchy, indicating to Google and your visitors which are the most important pages and posts

    •  Pretend you are your site’s prospect: Can you quickly find what you need? Provide users with an easy-to-find and use website navigation. This is traditionally done through a "main menu" that's found horizontally across the top of your website. You'll want to make sure all important pages are added here.  You also can add useful links/pages to sidebars and the footer as well as create an HTML sitemap to help users navigate through your site if you don’t have one already.
    1. Make sure you can be found
    Once you have implemented the above tactics to establish your site’s top-notch performance, take steps to make sure your prospects can find you.  Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is essential, whether you do it on your own or hire a professional.  At a minimum, list your website on top local directories, legal-specific directories, and social media platforms. Not only will this help drive additional traffic to your website, the backlinks will be good for Google (SEO), and you will create brand awareness and trust.

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  • Martindale-Hubbell Congratulates Our New Av Preeminent Peer Rated Attorneys 4/16/18


    Martindale-Hubbell is proud to announce that the following attorneys have achieved a Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating, awarded to only those lawyers with the highest ethical standards and professional ability.

    Congratulations to:

    Only approximately 10% of attorneys have achieved this prestigious honor. For more information on Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings, visit our Ratings and Reviews page. Attorneys who are interested in starting their own peer review process can submit the form below.

    Martindale-Hubbell conducts secure online Peer Review Ratings surveys of lawyers across multiple jurisdictions and geographic locations, in similar areas of practice as the lawyer being rated. Reviewers are instructed to assess their colleagues' general ethical standards and legal ability in a specific area of practice.   The ratings help buyers of legal services identify, evaluate and select the most appropriate lawyer for a specific task at hand. The confidentiality, objectivity and complete independence of the ratings process are what have made the program a unique and credible evaluation tool for members of the legal profession.  The legal community values the accuracy of lawyer peer review ratings because they are determined by their peers – the people who are best suited to assess the legal ability and professional ethics of their colleagues. Peer Review Rating award status can go up or down based on subsequent reviews. Please click on an attorney’s profile link to determine current award status.

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  • How To Claim & Optimize Your Google My Business Listing


    Make Certain Your Law Firm Gets The Most Visibility On Google

    The majority of consumer searches for an attorney include local intent. Consumers want legal counsel close by, so they search for things like: “attorney near me”, “Chicago bankruptcy law firm”, or “best divorce lawyer in NYC.” To be found in those searches, attorneys must claim and optimize their Google My Business (GMB) listing.  An optimized and active GMB listing increases the chances of your firm showing up in Google’s Local Pack, Local Finder, and Google Maps, in addition to showing up in organic search engine rankings. GMB is a free service that Google provides to all business owners; all you need is an email account to sign up. It does not replace your law firm’s website, but instead compliments it by giving your firm an official presence on Google.

    Claiming Your Google My Business Listing

    The first step in claiming your GMB listing is to make sure you have a Google account.  You can register by visiting www.google.com/accounts. You can use any email address to create a Google account. Once your Google account is established, go to https://www.google.com/business/. From there, conduct a search inside the dashboard to see if your firm is already listed. Start by typing in the name of your firm.
    1. If your listing is already found on Google Maps, it will populate for you as you type. When you see your listing, click on it, then click “Next"

    a) If this listing is already managed by someone, Google will let you know that “this listing has already been claimed”, and give you instructions on how to get access:

    b) If this listing is not already managed by someone else, and is available to be claimed, Google will now ask you to confirm the details that they already have for your business. Go through the five steps and confirm your business information. Once you confirm your business details, Google will send out a postcard to your address to verify your business. You'll get that postcard in about five to seven business days. Once you get the postcard, open it to find the PIN number. Log back into your GMB dashboard and enter that PIN number. That’s how you will get access to the listing and become the verified owner.

    2. If your listing is not on Google Maps yet, Google will prompt you to enter the following business information: address, business category, phone number, and your website. Once you’re done filling out this information, Google will send a postcard to your business for verification. Once you get the postcard, find the PIN number, enter into your dashboard, and then voilà, you are now the verified owner of this business!

    Once you’re verified on GMB, you can optimize your listing to position the firm as the best candidate to address the consumer’s legal concerns.

    Creating a strong GMB foundation

    Whether you’re claiming a profile that Google has started for you or building one from scratch, you need to enter six key pieces of information on your GMB correctly.
    1. Your Firm Name. This should be your real-world business name. It's how you answer the phone and what's on your company letterhead. The firm name should not read something like, "New Jersey personal injury and car accident lawyer in Bergen County." Don't spam out your listing by stuffing in those extra keywords and not portraying your business information correctly - you could get penalized by Google.
    2. Select Your Category. Don't overthink this. Be specific and don't pick too many. If you're a divorce attorney, then your category should be 'divorce lawyer'. If you handle car accident cases, then you should be listed as a 'personal injury attorney'. You shouldn't be listed as a personal injury attorney, and a law firm, and legal services, and lawyer, and trial attorney. Google wants you to be as specific as possible.
    3. Enter the physical location of your brick and mortar business. A quick side note on this: According to Google's guidelines, to be eligible for a GMB you cannot operate out of a virtual office or a P.O. box. Likewise, renting a room in a high-rise that you visit once a month is not your office. Google wants to make certain that a potential client can walk up to your business address during hours and speak with someone, which is why they put preference on it being a physical location.
    4. This ties into your firm's hours as well. Enter the actual hours of operation that someone could walk into your office and speak with someone. If your office closes at 6 pm, then that's what needs to be reflected on your GMB. Just because you have a website or an overnight answering service, doesn’t mean that you are open 24/7. Keep thinking of the end user. You wouldn’t want someone showing up at 10 pm if no one is there - and neither does Google.
    5. Enter your phone number. Use a unique local phone number, not a generic toll-free number that you have distributed across a bunch of other listings or locations. A local number will resonate with prospective clients more than an 800 number. Right away they can identify, "Oh, this is a 212 number, I know where these guys are in New York." Also, if you have multiple locations, you want to make sure you are not using the same phone number on each listing. It needs to be unique to that location.
    6. Add your website. Make sure this is your actual website and, just like your phone number, doesn't redirect anywhere else. We've seen people have a Facebook page, or some other social media profile there, which goes against Google’s guidelines. Users expect to be navigating to your website, so take them there. Also, remember that your GMB information needs to match what's found on your website; if not, it will confuse users. Which phone number is right? What street are the actually located on? Are they open right now? These are the questions they will be asking when you have inaccurate information. Also, Google uses this information to build your authority, so if your information is inconsistent, Google won’t trust your data, and you'll be less likely to show up in local search results.
    Here's a great example of a well optimized Google Business listing, that follows all the guidelines:   Stay tuned for our blog describing best practices to make your GMB shine. Related Posts:

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  • Martindale-Hubbell Congratulates Our New Av Preeminent Peer Rated Attorneys 4/9/18


    Martindale-Hubbell is proud to announce that the following attorneys have achieved a Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating, awarded to only those lawyers with the highest ethical standards and professional ability.

    Congratulations to:

    Only approximately 10% of attorneys have achieved this prestigious honor. For more information on Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings, visit our Ratings and Reviews page. Attorneys who are interested in starting their own peer review process can submit the form below.

    Martindale-Hubbell conducts secure online Peer Review Ratings surveys of lawyers across multiple jurisdictions and geographic locations, in similar areas of practice as the lawyer being rated. Reviewers are instructed to assess their colleagues' general ethical standards and legal ability in a specific area of practice.   The ratings help buyers of legal services identify, evaluate and select the most appropriate lawyer for a specific task at hand. The confidentiality, objectivity and complete independence of the ratings process are what have made the program a unique and credible evaluation tool for members of the legal profession.  The legal community values the accuracy of lawyer peer review ratings because they are determined by their peers – the people who are best suited to assess the legal ability and professional ethics of their colleagues. Peer Review Rating award status can go up or down based on subsequent reviews. Please click on an attorney’s profile link to determine current award status.

    Read More
  • Live Chat: A Great Complement to Phone Calls


    The goal of live chat is not to replace phone calls. One of the concerns that prospective clients often voice is “will live chat take away phone calls from my business?” While it is understandable why they may initially think that, in our experience live chat helps increase calls to your business, often by a significant amount! The reason behind this is that live chat can help engage visitors that would have otherwise left your site without interacting with you at all. A visitor who clicks on your site, looks around, and decides to leave without picking up the phone is a completely missed lead. Ngage’s industry-leading chat service and highly-trained operators are there to help guide the visitor to open up about their situation, get them invested in the conversation, and then position the attorney as the next step for who they need to speak with on the phone. What may have become a missed opportunity can quickly turn into a phone call with you or a member of your staff. Naturally, some of these visitors who engage in a chat may have called the firm anyways.  Historically, that has been about 20% of chat visitors. The other 80% are contacts that would have never reached out to the firm.  That is why live chat is so valuable to so many of businesses. Live chat provides them a great opportunity to capture leads that may not have stayed long enough to contact the firm and share their issue. Not all prospects are ready to contact you by phone upon first visiting your site. Each person exhibits a different “buying habit” and typically only those individuals who fall in the “impulsive” buying behavior will call right away. For some people, the decision to reach out to the firm may take more time and more research. We have seen strong indicators that many people do not want to share sensitive information (especially when it comes to legal issues) until they are comfortable and invested in the conversation. That’s why our highly-trained operators will ask open-ended questions that prompt the visitor to share the specific details about their legal issue. Ultimately, after discussing what they are going through, the visitor will often feel comfortable sharing their contact information (name, phone number, e-mail address) with the operator, and will often ask to speak with an attorney immediately! With a full suite of contact options available to your potential clients - chat, contact forms, and phone calls, you can rest assured that you are capturing as many potential leads as possible, many of which may turn into clients.

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  • Martindale-Hubbell Congratulates Our New Av Preeminent Peer Rated Attorneys 4/2/18


    Martindale-Hubbell is proud to announce that the following attorneys have achieved a Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating, awarded to only those lawyers with the highest ethical standards and professional ability.

    Congratulations to:

    Only approximately 10% of attorneys have achieved this prestigious honor. For more information on Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings, visit our Ratings and Reviews page. Attorneys who are interested in starting their own peer review process can submit the form below.

    Martindale-Hubbell conducts secure online Peer Review Ratings surveys of lawyers across multiple jurisdictions and geographic locations, in similar areas of practice as the lawyer being rated. Reviewers are instructed to assess their colleagues' general ethical standards and legal ability in a specific area of practice.   The ratings help buyers of legal services identify, evaluate and select the most appropriate lawyer for a specific task at hand. The confidentiality, objectivity and complete independence of the ratings process are what have made the program a unique and credible evaluation tool for members of the legal profession.  The legal community values the accuracy of lawyer peer review ratings because they are determined by their peers – the people who are best suited to assess the legal ability and professional ethics of their colleagues. Peer Review Rating award status can go up or down based on subsequent reviews. Please click on an attorney’s profile link to determine current award status.

    Read More
  • Creating A Solid Intake Process


    The intake process for any law practice or organization serves as the critical point of entry for new clients. The first meeting or consultation with a prospective client is where you get to make that all-important first impression on them. The intake process, however, usually begins at or before the first client meeting and may involve a few additional steps afterward. Despite the hugely important role of intake, many attorneys or other professionals may rush through the process in an effort to begin work on behalf of a paying client. Because intake is often one of the last steps taken before signing a retainer, it may be tempting to overlook training your team on the importance of the process. However, it is here during the first steps that the client will begin to appreciate your organization’s structure, communication, and values. This article will describe a few easy steps you can take to maximize the efficiency of your intake system while building greater trust with your clients. Provide thorough training for your team You will be better able to cement your relationship with your client at this stage by presenting a smooth intake process. Critical information is gathered during this initial intake stage. Intake helps weed out frivolous cases and identify any existing conflicts. Catching these issues early will save your practice time and money while providing at least a small layer of protection against potential malpractice claims. Some level of training should be provided to every member of your practice, including everyone from the support staff to the senior partners. Understanding what stage case is at when the matter is cleared to go beyond the intake stage, and where to direct intake questions will help provide more structure for your practice. This training should include information on:

    • How to convey your practice’s values from the very first client interaction
    • Detailed information to gather from each client
    • A timeline for checking conflicts
    • Follow up strategies
    • Software training for entering new clients into the firm’s database, updating firm calendars, and tracking the intake process
    Once training is provided, there should be regular reviews of the intake system to determine where weaknesses exist and review any other information that an intake metrics analysis may reveal. Use forms for gathering initial information The intake process tends to look similar for most clients. At this early stage, it is not necessary to draft a new intake form from scratch. Rather, existing templates can be used to gather the same information that is required from each client. A notes section can always be added to these template forms to include any special information. Additionally, software can be used to craft intake forms that are unique to different practice areas, if that would work best for your firm. The information used in intake forms typically does not have to be lengthy. Rather, a brief summary or description of the case, the client’s contact information, the adverse party’s contact information, and any information on the adverse party’s counsel. Use templates for fee agreements It is often best to sign a fee agreement in advance of beginning to work on a matter. Doing so will help clear up any confusion or misunderstanding about the nature of legal services you will providing and the expectations for compensation. Having a template fee agreement will be useful to save time and increase the efficiency of the intake process. Moreover, the template will often already include important provisions and disclaimers that your client should be aware of. Standard fee agreements can always be modified later and updated to fit your client’s particular circumstance. In addition to maintaining consistent terms in each fee agreement, it will be important to keep track of past fee agreements in order to ensure that you are receiving fair compensation for your service. If your firm bills hourly, it would also be helpful to create a master document that details each attorney’s rate. Information about attorney rates should, of course, be kept confidential and the firm administrator should carefully consider who should have access to that information. The important thing is to keep track of this information and also note how these rates change when discounted for particular situations or types of clients. Being able to quickly plug in this information will save time as these agreements are drafted. Create a checklist for the intake process Completing the intake process involves several important steps. It may include: the initial contact through phone or email; the initial in-person consultation or meeting; the conflicts check; signing of the fee agreement; transmittal of the engagement or retainer. Information gathered at each stage will be important, and it is often used for different reasons. For example, information about how the client contacted your firm could be used for both internal business and marketing purposes. The same information may also be used to refer your client to a different legal services provider and bolster your relationship with others in the legal community. Thus, it would be useful to create a checklist in order to make sure that staff and attorneys are following internal intake procedures and aware of steps that should be taken with the information gathered from clients. Create a timeline In some instances, the intake process can take longer than expected or require additional steps after the case is already. For example, if a new defendant is added to a case later on, additional conflicts checks may be required. Having a pre-determined timeline for when information should be gathered will help you move cases along and streamline the intake process. It will alert you to whether a case will be particularly complex or require additional steps. Having a timeline will make it easier to create reminders for yourself and your client while requiring you to see how other obligations on the firm’s calendar may influence the intake process. Because some intake procedures will need to be repeated regularly, it is important to be mindful of your practice's existing intake process. Developing these best practices early on will save you time and energy while protecting your firm easily avoidable mistakes. The steps outlined in this article will help you develop a more thoughtful and efficient law practice.

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  • Martindale-Hubbell Congratulates Our New Av Preeminent Peer Rated Attorneys 3/26/18


    Martindale-Hubbell is proud to announce that the following attorneys have achieved a Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating, awarded to only those lawyers with the highest ethical standards and professional ability.

    Congratulations to:

    Only approximately 10% of attorneys have achieved this prestigious honor. For more information on Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings, visit our Ratings and Reviews page. Attorneys who are interested in starting their own peer review process can submit the form below.

    Martindale-Hubbell conducts secure online Peer Review Ratings surveys of lawyers across multiple jurisdictions and geographic locations, in similar areas of practice as the lawyer being rated. Reviewers are instructed to assess their colleagues' general ethical standards and legal ability in a specific area of practice.   The ratings help buyers of legal services identify, evaluate and select the most appropriate lawyer for a specific task at hand. The confidentiality, objectivity and complete independence of the ratings process are what have made the program a unique and credible evaluation tool for members of the legal profession.  The legal community values the accuracy of lawyer peer review ratings because they are determined by their peers – the people who are best suited to assess the legal ability and professional ethics of their colleagues. Peer Review Rating award status can go up or down based on subsequent reviews. Please click on an attorney’s profile link to determine current award status.

    Read More
  • Does Your Online Biography Have What It Takes?


    Potential clients shop around. They review a number of attorneys, even when they’ve been referred by a friend.  Does your online profile have what it takes to convince a prospect to contact you? Anatomy of a robust online biography In order to convert viewers into clients, you need to make clear not only that you stand ahead of the pack in terms of credibility and effectiveness but also that you can resolve their specific legal issue. Consumers don’t understand the law and harbor concerns that because of this their lawyer will look down on them or even hoodwink them.  Dissuade them of these thoughts. Write like you speak and use language that shows passion and dedication. Almost anyone who is hiring a lawyer has a great deal at stake. Your profile should convey that you work hard for your clients and take a personal interest in their outcomes. To further differentiate yourself, be sure to incorporate these elements into your biography.

    • Build trust with a high-quality, professional picture. We cannot stress enough how important this is. Images increase conversion rates. Your photo engenders trust on behalf of the viewer. Hire a professional to capture you in a professional light. A sloppy cell phone picture can do more harm than good.
    • Confirm ability with years of experience. Reassure prospects that you can resolve their legal issue because you’ve been doing so for other consumers for years. If you are just starting out in your practice, you’ll need to be more creative in conveying this point. Rather than using years, quantify your experience with other numbers that work. For example, “I’ve helped dozens of clients resolve their legal issue within one month’s time.”
    • Provide “virtual client referrals” with reviews. Ninety percent of consumers consider reviews essential to making a buying decision. They assess not just reviews’ scores, but their quantity and recency. Prominently display your reviews on your biography so prospects can see others recommend you.
    • Demonstrate results with success stories. Prospects that see evidence of your concrete results will have an easier time envisioning the same results for themselves. While being sensitive to client confidentiality and your state bar rules, include testimonials, case studies, lists of representative closings, deals or cases.
    • Be human.Share information about your hobbies and interests. Tell the story of why you decided to practice law or of the satisfaction you derive when you achieve your clients’ goals. Use humor if appropriate. Giving prospects a way to relate to you increases the likelihood they will want to work with you.
    • Don’t play hard to get. Last but not least, make sure you include your contact information. This may sound like a no-brainer, but don’t overlook the fact that each prospect has his or her own preferred method of communicating. Some will text, others will call, and still others prefer to complete a form or send an email. Make it easy for prospects to get in touch.
    Remember, prospects care more about how you can help them with their problem than with the particulars about your education and where you are licensed to practice.  Of course you need to include this CV-type information in your biography, but most importantly you need to successfully communicate that you have the relevant knowledge and experience to guide your prospect through their legal dilemma.

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