The Internet’s Effect on Law: Disaster or Opportunity?

The Internet has changed the game for several industries – newspapers, book publishers, marketing agencies of all types to name a few. I was reminded of this when I had lunch with a criminal defense attorney who said the Internet is the worst thing to happen to his business.

He argued that it has allowed a profusion of inexperienced, and bad, attorneys to attract business by creating websites that skillfully utilize search engine optimization (SEO) to rank well with Google. However, once they get clients, my lunch-mate said, they falter in the legal system, either because of inexperience or ineptitude.

In addition, he says, these lawyers are often willing to take on any client who walks into the office. For a case that he might quote $5,000 to take on, they will charge $1,000. After the low-ball lawyer does a bad job, many of these clients revisit my acquaintance to get the job finished. He says several of his cases over the past year are pick-ups from lawyers who did not represent their clients adequately.

The difference between this attorney and many others, however, is that his firm is doing something about the Internet. They concentrate on SEO and PPC advertising, frequently updating content on their website and getting a lot of leads electronically. Too many law firms complain about lawyers who know Google but not the law, yet they don’t do anything to help themselves.

My friend’s firm is in the game. As he says, the world is not going to change; he and his partners have to play along. That’s the right approach, and it’s different than what a lot of lawyers and other service providers are saying – and doing – in response to the market.

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