In the digital age, establishing an online presence for your law firm is more important than ever. While factors like social media are undoubtedly important, the most crucial component to keeping clients flowing in is your law firm website.
A staggering 74% of potential clients visit law firm websites to take action.
Yet, there are still many firms and attorneys out there that don’t have websites. Instead, they rely on outdated mediums like yellow pages, print media, and expensive TV ads to attract new clients.
If you’re considering having a new website developed for your firm, you naturally want to know how much it would cost to develop one from scratch. This post will go over:
- Understanding the Iron Triangle
- How Much Are Attorney Websites?
- The Benefits of Setting Up a Website for Your Legal Practice
Let’s take a look.
Understanding the Iron Triangle
Before diving into the specific costs of developing websites (and what you can expect from different price ranges), you need to first approach this question with the right mindset.
To do that, you should consider the concept of the “Iron Triangle.”
It’s a tool used in project management that helps gauge the success of individual projects, how to allocate budget, and set realistic expectations.
According to the iron triangle, you have three outcomes for your project…but you can only pick two:
No matter what your project is, you can’t have all 3 of those outcomes. That’s where the iron triangle helps you prioritize and gain clarity.
Here’s what it looks like:
Use this tool to decide what you want from your lawyer website. As you can see in the illustration above, you can only select one option from the following:
- You can have a cheap website made fast, but it won’t be great.
- You can have a good website that’s cheap, but it’ll take longer to develop.
- Finally, you can have a good website made fast, but it won’t be cheap.
You can decide the functionality and quality of your law firm website design, how much you’re willing to spend on it, and how quickly you want it…but you must compromise on one of those things.
This will save you from a lot of disappointment, unnecessary back-and-forth, and financial burden.
How Much Are Attorney Websites?
Keeping the iron triangle as a reference, we’re now in a much better position to answer how much attorney websites cost.
To give you a broad range, you can expect to spend anywhere from $10,000 (minimum) to over $100,000 for a high-quality, fully functioning website. It may be possible to go lower, but we would always advise against it.
We can break down the cost of attorney websites into the following three tiers:
The differences in those tiers are based on what you’re willing to compromise. For example, you can get the best website designed in a very short time, but its cost will likely be in six figures.
The following is a breakdown of each tier.
Cost: $10,000 to $15,000
This is what you can get if you’re not looking to spend a hefty amount upfront on your legal website.
What you’ll get is a (relatively) low-cost website that won’t have the best design and will lack some of the flashier user-experience features that you might find on others.
These websites are usually made on templates, so they don’t require much technical prowess (and can be developed fairly quickly). Of course, you can’t expect a solid custom design in this price range, but you can get a basic functional website that simply gets the job done.
The websites created by Justia — a popular digital marketing service provider specializing in law firms and attorneys — are good examples of those that fall into this tier.
Reviews from attorneys show that they can design cost-effective websites that seem highly templatized and similar to one another.
Furthermore, all of Justia’s websites run on their proprietary content management system (CMS). This means that you’ll essentially be stuck using their platform and will require help from their developers if you ever need to make any major site-wide changes.
In addition, they won’t help you migrate your website to another CMS, such as WordPress.
That being said, the website would still be fully functional and help you get new leads and clients. The only things missing would be your own custom design, additional bells and whistles, and complete control over your website.
If you’re a solo practitioner and just want to get going, opting for a website development service that falls into this category is a good option.
Don’t worry about anything else. Right now, your priority should be to get something functional up and running that can help you establish an online presence for your practice and get new business.
Later, when you scale and have the budget, you can always upgrade to something more substantial. You can then have the structure and design that you want for your website.
Consider this: Over 40% of solo practitioners don’t have websites.
If you decide to create and launch a basic website today, you’ll instantly have the edge over more than 40% of your competitors.
The leap you make by spending $10K–$15K would help you generate more leads for your practice during the time you wait to increase your budget.
Cost: $15,000 to $25,000
In the mid-tier, you start to see some customization and greater flexibility in terms of what content management system you use.
Most attorney websites you see fall into this tier.
You can expect to pay anywhere from $15K to $25K for a website that has:
- Fairly Custom Design: You can decide how you want your website to be structured (as in, where to place the logo, menu bar, buttons, content, etc.) to a reasonable extent.
- Complete Freedom: Make sure that the website you get in this budget runs on a popular CMS, such as WordPress. This will make it easier for you to make changes (no matter how big or small) to your website without having to rely on only one team.
- Better Features: Not being locked into a legacy CMS means you’ll be able to enjoy a wide range of website features (installed as plugins), resulting in better functionality and user experience.
The only thing that this price range may not cover is copywriting. You may have to work on highlighting your unique selling proposition or brand messaging on your own.
Keep in mind that “copywriting” is different from “content writing.”
- Content writing refers to regular content development like blog posts, eBooks, guides, etc., used to educate your audience.
- Copywriting is the content on your website’s home page and other landing pages, used to sell your legal services.
While this may not sound like a priority right now, compelling and personalized content can drive more actions. Surprisingly, about 97% of law firm websites fail to deliver personalized content.
As a result, there is an opportunity there to stand out from the rest by spending more and adding high-quality copywriting into the mix.
Mid-tier is a great option for a small firm or a successful solo attorney looking to scale their legal practice.
It’s also suitable for those who are now thinking about differentiation.
In this day and age, where there are thousands of law firms and attorneys, it’s more important than ever to stand out.
It’s hard differentiate your law firm if your website looks very similar to your competitors or has an outdated design.
With a mid-tier budget, you can have a fairly custom website designed and developed with ease.
Then again, you’ll need to come up with the copy by yourself. That’s because great copy (that actually results in higher conversions) can cost a fortune.
Cost: $25,000+ (can even go north of $100,000)
Most of the best law firm websites — in terms of design, copy, and features — fall into the top-tier. You can think of them as the crème de la crème of attorney websites.
Your options significantly increase if your budget is above $25,000. From there, the more you spend, the more high-quality and substantial the end-product will be. Some law firms even go beyond the $100K mark.
Here’s what you can expect in this tier:
- Completely Custom Design: By dropping more than $25,000, you’re well within your rights to expect 100% custom design for your website, no matter how complex it may be or how many pages you want.
- Visual Appeal: In this budget tier, you can expect your custom website to have a phenomenal design aesthetic that truly reflects your firm’s brand.
- Copywriting: Finally, you can also expect top-notch copywriting that highlights your value proposition and brand messaging.
There are quite a few services that cater to law firms and attorneys with top-tier budgets.
Influex is a great example, although it serves businesses from other industries as well.
They offer both copywriting and beautiful branded web designs that justify every penny you spend.
Top-tier is perfect for those firms that understand the value of copywriting and what it can do for their business.
Additionally, it’s also meant for those who appreciate good design.
They’re well aware that by combining those two elements, they’ll set their practice up for passive lead generation and client intake. For that reason, they’re also willing to pay a much higher price for it.
The Benefits of Setting Up a Website for Your Legal Practice
While the cost of getting a website designed for your legal practice may seem a bit high, it’s definitely worth it.
Below, we’ve shared some compelling reasons to invest in your firm’s most important digital asset: your website.
You Establish an Online Presence
As stated earlier, with a website (no matter which tier you pick), you can establish a solid foundation for your law firm’s online presence.
You can think of a website as your digital office — a place where people can discover your firm, learn more about it, and use it to contact your intake specialists. All the leads you attract with the online marketing strategy of your law firm will end up here.
According to Clio, 37% of people look for lawyers through online search.
If they don’t find a website they can use to contact you, you stand to lose a number of them to your competitors.
You Get a “Salesperson” That’s Available Around-the-Clock
One of the keys to effective legal intake is to be available 24/7, 365.
Since accidents can happen at any time, you never know when a potential client will need legal assistance.
While you can hire an intake service that caters to leads around the clock, you need a platform through which prospective clients can learn more about your legal services, as well as get in touch via online chat or a phone number shared on the home page.
If you have great copy on your website, they might also determine if you’d be a good fit for them before contacting you.
The result? More chances of getting qualified leads, resulting in more new cases.
On the other hand, without a website, the only way for leads to learn more about your legal practice would be to contact your intake team. Obviously, that route would result in longer discussions, which leads to inefficiencies and higher costs.
You Build Trust and Credibility
Your leads need to trust you before they select you for legal assistance.
Even the smallest shred of doubt is enough to drive potential clients away at the very last moment.
Because of that, you need to do everything you can to present yourself as credible and give your leads a reason to trust you.
People need to know that you have what it takes to bring them the desired outcomes, should they choose you to handle their legal matters.
While referrals can do the trick, many clients want to do their own research and see what makes you special. It’s not inaccurate to say that a fair percentage of them would turn to your website to validate what they heard from their friends/peers.
With a website, you get the chance to showcase the amazing results you’ve managed to achieve for your clients in the past. There’s no better way to sell yourself than to use your accomplishments.
Here’s an example (taken from the website of a Philadelphia-based law firm):
In addition to numbers, you can also share reviews/testimonials from happy clients on your website, like so:
Reviews and testimonials are classic elements of a trustworthy website. Use them to your advantage to get more clients.
You Establish a Following
A website provides you with a platform where you can share your legal knowledge with the world through content, such as blog posts, case studies, reports, and guides.
By consistently publishing insightful content that helps your audience navigate legal matters — and then using online marketing tactics like search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, email marketing, and paid search ads to promote everything — you will eventually build up a large following for your law firm.
This will also result in more brand awareness, and the next time any of those followers need help with their legal affairs, you’ll be the first firm/attorney that comes to mind.
It may be a hard decision for some attorney to drop thousands of dollars on a website, but as we’ve shown above, this one-time cost is worth it in the long run.
When it comes to deciding how much you want to spend on your website, there’s no right answer to every firm, as you have to consider:
- A realistic amount of money you can spare
- A timeframe in which you want to have your website designed and developed
- How you want your website to look
- Whether or not you can manage copywriting on your own
Regardless of what you decide, remember to keep the iron triangle in mind when setting expectations.