female attorney looking at laptop screen assessing website providers for her law firm
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Specialization is not just a valuable practice for lawyers. It can be the key differentiator when it comes to marketing your law firm, too. When it comes to selecting a law firm website builder, your success hinges on specialization—don’t choose a generalist over a specialist. 

Many case management systems have started offering websites. There’s a certain appeal to building your firm’s website through your management application, like Clio or MyCase. They host all your firm’s matter-related data, after all, so why wouldn’t you choose to send all your website data through to your practice management system automatically? Isn’t it easier to have all your tools in one place? 

The truth is complicated—ultimately, we recommend that lawyers build a separate site. Don’t mistake convenience for effectiveness when it comes to building a website for your law firm.

In this article, we’ll explain the pros and cons of law website builders from practice management applications and why we think lawyers stand to benefit the most from separate sites.

Pro: Can cut down on data entry

Your practice management application can connect to your website to track inbound leads. This can reduce the amount of data entry your team must complete.

However, there’s no guarantee that you’ll see a reduction in workload or a seamless implementation. To work well, your practice management application needs some type of lead management like a CRM. 

Pro: Can be more affordable 

It’s hard to argue with affordability. Creating a site through your practice management software can be much cheaper than building a separate website. In some cases, your subscription may even include website building and hosting.

Unfortunately, cost is not the only factor that matters here. In other words, you may save money on the cost of website building and hosting but you may lose out on a ton of revenue by tying yourself to a site, built on a proprietary platform, by a team without marketing specialization. Think long-term.

If you can’t splash out on a custom site with all the bells and whistles, how about a turnkey website solution that you can customize with the most impactful bells and whistles, with room to grow?

Con: Limited scope

You’re likely to come up against some design limits with these website builders. For instance, Clio limits users to a single-page website. 

The inherent limits of these website builders can inhibit SEO and slow your growth.

We know a lot about search engines and user experience (UX), thanks to the marketing professionals on the OneFirst team which spans legal writers, SEO specialists and digital designers. The reality is that Google just doesn’t like some types of websites because they’re simply not useful to users. 

A limited scope may sound attractive on the surface, but it’s basically shortening the race track before you’re even out of the gate. Why limit your future growth just because it’s the most convenient way to publish a site? 

Con: Proprietary (aka you don’t own it)

This should be a dealbreaker for most law firms. 

Website builders within a practice management application are proprietary—and you’re not the owner.

You can invest a ton of effort into crafting a gorgeous site with compelling copy on these website builders. But what happens if you decide to leave that provider? 

Since you don’t own the underlying code, you’ll have to navigate data migration on top of rebuilding your website if you ever choose to part ways with your practice management software. 

The proprietary website builder is a dangerous ball-and-chain that can destroy even the best law firm. It limits your flexibility and power as a business owner. This is why we build our sites on WordPress, so that our clients own their content and are free to change and grow (even away from our agency). 

Con: No specialization in marketing

You’d never hire a horse jockey to cook at a Michelin restaurant, even if they know how to set the table and fry an egg. 

Practice management software companies specialize in something super valuable! Building those databases is a huge feat and we don’t deny they provide serious value. However, this type of software and database management is entirely different from website design.

Your website’s primary purpose is actually not to manage your case and matter data. Instead, you should treat your website like a public-facing asset that will serve as a valuable resource during the attorney selection process. 

If you need a 5-star gourmet meal, don’t ask the horse jockey. 

If you need a website that’s capable of world-class SEO and lead generation, you won’t get it through a practice management application provider’s website builder. 

Final words

Creating a legal website is more complicated than you might think. Your choice of website builder can impact your firm’s ability to attract leads, rank well on Google and grow your future revenue.

Your expertise is lawyering—our expertise is digital marketing for lawyers. So before you make a decision that will impact the future growth of your law firm, consult with the marketing experts about your options.

About the Author
The team at OneFirst Legal has built websites for thousands of law firms across the United States. Fueled by data and whole lot of creativity, OneFirst helps law firms make a powerful first impression online with websites that convert visitors into clients.