Geography can often be an advantage to attorneys when it comes to marketing their websites. A great deal of legal services—from family law and divorce to criminal defense—are still rooted, at a minimum, in state law. Often services are even further localized: because clients often need direct access to local courts, and to the attorneys themselves, most law practices serve particular geographic niches.
U.S. immigration law, on the other hand, generally involves federal law that is equally applicable nationwide. Accordingly, immigration attorneys face both the benefits and disadvantages of a much larger market than is often the case for the small firms that The Modern Firm serves. Our work with immigration firms over the years—including the Law Office of Brian Wang in Clifton Park, NY, and Sumner Immigration Law in Richmond, VA—led us to compile a few ideas about using the unique aspects of immigration legal services to overcome the field's online marketing challenges.
Big Market. For some immigration lawyers, the potentially global breadth of their practice creates an intimidating challenge: a large pool of competitors. Instead of facing a known quantity of local attorney competitors, these practitioners have to share their potential clients—and those clients' web search results—with a large range of other immigration attorneys, many of whom may be connected to larger firms with more marketing resources.
The Difficulty of Differentiation. Solo attorneys or small immigration firms are often immigration generalists. They may offer services to families, individuals and businesses in a wide range of areas, from family-based Green Cards to work-related visas like H-1B, H-1A and H-2B visas. This again increases the general pool of overall competitors and can make it difficult to decide where to target website content and an internet marketing budget.
Big Market. A big market also means a large potential client pool—which can be not just nationwide, but in fact worldwide. Effectively tapping into that pool creates an unlimited number of possible clients.
No Geographic Limits. Another advantage—the flip-side of the potential difficulties created by a large group of attorney competitors—is that federal immigration law practitioners are not as limited geographically as are many solo attorneys and small firms. This means that an effective online marketing strategy can be aimed at particular potential clients who may live throughout the world. Here, the key is to identify specific types of clients in order to directly address them through website content or ads, such as through Google Adwords.
Find A Practice Area Niche. One tip for taking advantage of the broad market for U.S. immigration services involves establishing one or more practice niches toward which you can direct your energies. Who are your favorite clients? Do they have particular needs in common? What types of legal services, in your experience, pay your bills? Do you have a great success story in a particular area of immigration law that you can promote?
Create A Geographic Niche. Most immigration attorneys will tell you they have had one or more experiences with the following scenario: they help one family from a particular foreign country or city immigrate successfully to the U.S., and then all the sudden they have a long list of new clients from that same country or city. Word of mouth counts. Particularly when immigrants often have to choose an attorney from across the world, sight unseen. You may wish to devote a portion of your website or marketing budget to that particular locale, as well as to your ability to work with translators, if necessary, to communicate in the local language.
Your Office Location Still Counts. The global marketplace for U.S. immigration legal services aside, we shouldn't downplay the local aspect of legal practice even in the field of immigration. Clients, their business sponsors, their émigré community, or their family members may well be right around the corner from you, looking for face to face contact and locally-based legal counsel. For these clients, more traditional law firm marketing—whether online or through other community-based marketing and networking—is more likely to do the trick.
Today we welcomed a new immigration lawyer to our law firm website design family. Renee Redman of New Haven, CT, already has several advantages. A long-time immigration law practitioner, attorney Redman also teaches immigration law, clerked at the New York and Newark, New Jersey, Immigration Courts, and has served in positions including Director of Immigration at the International Institute of Connecticut, Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, and Executive Director of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center. Her successes have allowed her to build a thriving immigration practice based largely on referrals.
Even for established attorneys like Renee Redman, however, a well-designed web presence is a must. As our website design clients tell us every day: almost every legal client looks up a potential attorney on the internet before hiring him or her, even after receiving a great word of mouth recommendation. Sometimes attorneys even recount that they have discovered the loss of a potential client because their firm didn't have a website. The Modern Firm is happy to work with attorneys and law firms who want to create a minimal web presence largely for such validation—think of it an an online business card.
We look forward to helping Ms. Redman to update her web presence in the coming weeks, expand her practice area descriptions, and create a blog platform that allows her to easily share immigration news with her clients. Welcome Renee!