Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Glamorous Librarians: Or Improving Your Law Firm Website

New pic due soon, thank goodness
Lawyers and various support services staff here have embraced new challenges recently; we have been models and copywriters. An artist photographer came in to take our photos last week, whilst Business Development sent us a template so we could write about ourselves, our role and how we can help you, the client. Obviously we are completing these difficult tasks for our firm’s exciting new website.

We are striving to present ourselves as qualified, approachable and trustworthy people who, if engaged, would work tirelessly on your behalf in a legal and business capacity. This is precisely what every other law firm is trying to do with their website, so how do you differentiate between all these legal sites?

This website revamp process has generated a lot of internal discussion but I wanted to think about the issues which are relevant to library/information/knowledge professionals. The crucial question is why have someone like me even listed on the site? I’m not directly client facing, I don’t have a case load, and my experiences aren’t immediately relevant to the client. But during one meeting it was made clear that a picture and profile of the Library & Information Manager would be there; no argument, no question.

I wondered if other comparable firms did the same and did some investigating. I asked Twitter ‘Putting library and information staff profiles on law firm websites. Views? Good, bad, indifferent’. Despite the limited response, the view from librarians and lawyers was that it was a ‘good’ thing. This confirmed a number of my own views;

  • Endorsement of staff: Putting the profiles of senior business services employees on a law firm site is an excellent way of showing potential clients that you value all your staff, not just your legal people. A profile of your information manager suggests that they are included and fully endorsed.

  • Unique selling point: Information professionals have a raft of qualifications, experience and expertise. From a client perspective, and depending on their requirements, it could be argued that information people have as much as much to offer as some of the more junior associates or trainees.

  • Visibility engenders pride: Writing a profile when you haven’t done any professional development or made no meaningful contribution to the firm would be impossible. Therefore being visible is an incentive to become active in your professional information capacity, as well as proactive within the firm. Or combine the two and start adding value to both.

Further investigations led me to various law firm sites to gauge how many peer firms included their information professionals. In some cases I’ve met people during networking/training events from these firms so I knew who I was looking for. Astonishingly many information professionals were not included on these sites, even when IT, Finance and HR were. I appreciate that some people do not want to be included but even taking this into account, there are too few of us – and our talents – listed.

My rough methodology is, admittedly, rather unscientific but it is a competitive market out there. It is one way for firms to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Of course, it helps if the law firm’s site is attractively and excellently designed, has well written content and includes client focused interactive features. However, it costs very little to include a glamorous photo and a finely crafted bio of your information team under the ubiquitous People tab. They should make full use of their talented information staff.

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