Ten of the largest 100 law firms launch new websites in the first half of 2018.By Joe Walsh
August 23, 2018
In Q1 and Q2 of 2018, 10% of the AmLaw 100 law firms introduced new or improved websites to the market. Have a quick look at each of the ten below and our reviews to spot trends, benchmark competitors and form your own impression of what’s new and fresh.
Wilmer Hale’s new website reminds us a bit of Sullivan Cromwell’s. Not in design, but in the way it welcomes a visitor. Each leads with a large search bar in the middle of the page filled with the question, “How may we help you?” There is an admirable common courtesy in the approach we find lacking in some of the “look at us” websites we see within and outside the legal profession. Inside the site, the firm continues to be a strong content marketer with efforts like the 2018 M&A Report. These white papers have an investment banking feel, as does the tone of the broader site.
The “new” website, like the old, begins with a clear promise: entrepreneurial spirit and innovative solutions. We put new in quotes because this is a home page refresh. The inside design remains as is. Taking a lead from the promise, the site design itself breaks some of the conventions of law firm websites in its layout, page templates and short bursts of content—all arranged and stacked in vertical columns. The energy industry page is a nice example of a page that delivers a lot of substantive information in bite size chunks.
This site was launched amid a broader brand makeover that included the shortening of the firm’s name to Shearman and redesign of its logo. We’ll focus on the site here. It is organized around a cascading, left to right menu system that is intended, we suspect, to minimize clicks and trips down the rabbit hole. We think the site is successful in that regard. Navigation aside, we like the firm’s collection of issues-based microsites on subjects like Argentine Sovereign Debt, Russia Sanctions and Global Compliance/Anti Corruption. They are an effective way of using trends to introduce the firm’s capabilities and thoughts on topical items.
This is a very sharp new website that was inspired, we think, by the clean, open identity system and logo we designed for Proskauer in 2008. While the core identity remains, the site is very 2018. We like that it is easy to navigate and written with refreshingly candid, straight talk. The about us section is worth a look for inspiration both in style and substance. The firm has always been a strong content marketer. The insight center in the new site helps this content shine.
You land on the home page of the site and you are greeted with BOLDLY DELIVERING in big bold letters. It’s quite a start. The site is modern, well organized and easy to get around. It may sound like an overly simple thing, but we really like the visual aid next to each piece of content in the insight center (and elsewhere). It signals with a small clock icon how long a piece of content is. Example: 1 min read, 4 min read 7 min read, etc. We’ve not seen that done before on a law firm website, which makes the site bold for doing something different and helpful.
O’Melveny’s latest introduces a new home page and navigation bar throughout the site. However, the insides have not changed with this refresh (as best we can tell). This leads us to believe the rest of the site may be in the process of a do over. Meanwhile, we like the case studies and achievements featured on the home page and elsewhere. Related case study links on service and industry pages are smart as buyers want to know who you’ve worked for, what you’ve done and how it turned out.
File this update in the sites with a new home page only category. A couple years back, the firm relaunched with a responsive website. Much of that design is intact and blends with the new. The new home page is visually interesting with video imagery that quickly signals what Duane Morris would like us all to know: we work all over the map. Below the fold, hot items are featured in a tidy grid and a firm report video grabs your attraction with its lively soundtrack.
Like other firms we’ve seen lately (are we detecting a trend?), Blank Rome’s new site features a large, central search bar as the star of its home page. We can’t say for certain that google invented this approach, though google’s search bar only website is certainly universally recognized. Plus, they are the masters of internet search universe—so featuring search is a natural for google. But back to the law and Blank Rome. Overall the site is clean, airy, easy to use and well written. We especially like the construct of industry and service pages that lays out “how we can help” and “what sets us apart” in each area of expertise.
Positioning a firm with a niche, like immigration law, may be simpler than positioning a full service firm. Yet Fragomen manages to declare its immigration major and more — globally. The site design is impressive, sophisticated and approachable, perhaps like the people of Fragomen. The writing is direct and clear. The functionality is user friendly and courteous—even to the point of recognizing the visitors location on the top of the site and suggesting the nearby office as a contact. Kudos all around for a nice new website.
Steptoe’s strides into 2018 and beyond with a modern, practical new website. While it is more function over form, the site functions exceptionally well. It is rich with user focused content, including integrated blogs. We like how the firm has organized all it does for great clients into six categories and declared what is does best in the copy under about us. Adding credence to it’s role at the intersection of law, business and government, there is proof in the itemized listing of Steptoe lawyers who have held a wide range of elected and appointed positions in the US Congress, the executive branch, federal regulatory agencies, and the Judiciary.
For a broader perspective, please spend some time on our sitevisitsSM research microsite. It catalogs 200 professional service firm websites and provides the latest dish on professional service firm web design, content and development trends.