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Wisconsin law firm Web sites judged by marketing firm

MADISON, Wis. – For the past three years, the Internet Marketing Attorney has ruled on law firm Web sites and now this year’s verdict is in. The recently posted 2004-05 IMA Awards and Reviews, directed by Micah Buchdahl, razzes and raves over 300 sites in three categories. Several Wisconsin law firms were recognized and reviewed by the IMA, including Foley & Lardner, Durrani Law Firm, Reinhart Boerner, Godfrey & Kahn, Michael Best & Friedrich and Quarles & Brady.

Web sites were evaluated on design, content, usability, interactivity and various intangibles. The highest score possible was 50, 10 points per criteria, and no site exceeded a score of 46. The IMA reviewed 250 sites belonging to the largest U.S. law firms and acknowledged the top 30 with platinum, gold or silver awards. In addition, the top 25 small to mid-sized firm sites and international firm sites, which were nominated by submissions, were reviewed and awarded.

Foley & Lardner’s site, which received a silver award as one of the largest 250 firms in the United States, was praised for its new features and customization tools. Anne Ross, partner at Foley & Lardner, said she personally uses the “Briefcase” feature to help personalize the site to her interests. She added that her firm views its Web site as much more than a marketing tool.

“IT and the Internet play a significant role in the delivery of legal services,” Ross said. “ The Web site is the first layer of interface with clients, but you can go a lot deeper. We do webinars, we set up intranet for some of our major clients. … It’s an easy, user-friendly way to work with the lawyers at Foley & Lardner.”

William E. Komassa, law clerk and Webmaster at Durrani Law Firm, also believes a site can function as a gateway to information and said his firm’s online case-management capabilities help make it unique. Durrani’s site won an IMA gold award in the small to mid-sized category.
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“Through the site we are able to offer information people would otherwise have to dig harder for, and we do have online access for all our clients so they can manage cases online,” Komassa said. “[The site] is really important, a sort of doormat to the firm. It gives people a first impression … a lot of clients may not ever come to our offices, so the only face they see of Durrani is on the World Wide Web and we’re putting our best face forward.”

The following reviews have been reprinted with permission from the IMA and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN).

“250 largest law firm” category

Foley & Lardner
Total score: 37
The old Foley site was good; the new one is great. With the addition of the “briefcase” customization, the user-friendly tools, improved searching flexibility and a comprehensive variety of news, publications, case studies, and events, the new site does what it should—take you to a new level.

Reinhart Boerner
Total score: 26
An interesting thing happened on the way to this site. This year, IMA put “Reinhart Boerner” into the Internet Explorer browser address and MSN brought up the old rbvdnr.com results (formerly known as “one of the least intuitive domain names known to man”). This link was dead, leaving me to wonder whether the firm had folded or merged (which is not that unusual an occurrence these days). However, when putting the same search phrase into Google, up popped the improved domain, reinhartlaw.com. Horray! Just remember, that previous domain should still be on re-direct for a few years. On with the show…Very good home page with the logo top-left, a brief firm description, a few changing news and events. It would be nice if the latest news was not three months old on this date. And, I would love to see an address or location hint as to where the firm is based. As I continued surfing, I could tell the site was not yet ready for prime time. The “overview” section read “This is some overview text.” I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that by the time people read this review, the uploading will have improved. The presence continues to get better each year. WILL ALWAYS LOVE…the Satisfied Clients section.

Godfrey & Kahn
Total score: 23
Since the Philadelphia Eagles beat Green Bay (remember fourth & 26?), I have no reason to be bitter toward any firms in the land of cheese. Of course, those firms in Carolina better watch out. Eagles fans are a tough lot, and not too forgiving. Anyway, the site needs some help. The “what’s new” should be called “when was the last time someone updated what’s new”. The practice descriptions could be tighter, with better integration with the rest of the site. The left-side “labor news” is not even tied into the practice area labor news page. At the time of this review, IMA is waiting for his first kid to arrive. But, that is a different kind of labor. The design is fine here. The structure has a little crack in the foundation.

Michael Best
Total score: 20
You are withering with age, my friend. Time for a new site. And for goodness sake, a more intuitive domain name! New organization and search mechanisms would go a long way, especially since the site remains current and content-driven. Some pages are also getting a little too wieldy. WILL ALWAYS LOVE…commitment to the “daily features”…the printable firm directory.

Quarles & Brady
Total score: 16
You need—to get rid of the frames, get a sharper (less boring) redesign, make better use of the home page and the boxed “highlights” flashing top-right. At present, the home page is a laundry list of practice group “update” PDFs. Having all of the office names, addresses and phone numbers taking up a part of every page is annoying. At one point, I found myself on a practice description page, out of the frames and with no way back home, or to any other section of the site. The attorney page, with only alphabetical choices (although other attorney bio search options exist elsewhere) is not too useful. The good news is that the firm content (publications, events, news) is better than the online presentation. My guess? The web was low-priority on the business development plan.

“Small to mid-sized firms” category

Durrani Law Firm
Total score: 35
Another immigration law firm that is using technology to the fullest. And the site is updated with loads and loads of information. I was convinced that the six headlines dated on the review day was a scam of some sort. So, I went back again to see. No scam. They really were updating with ferocity. Loved the checklists, and the interactivity throughout.

For complete information regarding the awards and other features, check out the IMA site.

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Kristin V. Johnson is the Associate Editor of WTN. She can be reached at kristin@wistechnology.com.

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