Criminal Defense Marketing: Tips & Tricks to Grow Your Practice
Criminal law is a complex and ever-changing field. Every case is different, making it difficult to create a one-size-fits-all marketing strategy. However, there are some basic principles that all criminal defense attorneys can follow to grow their practice. In this post, we will discuss some of the most effective ways to market your criminal defense practice. We will also offer some tips on how to stay competitive in this challenging industry. So if you are looking to expand your criminal law practice, keep reading!
What does a criminal defense lawyer do?
In criminal law, a lawyer defends an individual who has been accused of a crime. The lawyer's job is to provide a strong defense for their client and ensure their rights are protected. Criminal defense lawyers are known for their tenacity, empathy, and advocacy for their clients. Additionally, criminal lawyers will honestly advise their clients of the potential consequences and advise on the best outcome they can achieve. A criminal defense attorney must have an in-depth knowledge of their jurisdiction's complex criminal justice system.
Why marketing for criminal defense attorneys is unique
Criminal defense lawyers often face an uphill battle when marketing their services due to a few factors: financial limitations and the competitive market.
Financial limitations of prospective clients
Due to financial limitations, accused criminals may choose to represent themselves in court or use a public defender. Often, public defenders are handling large caseloads and may not be able to give the personal attention needed to represent their clients. Because of the lack of financial resources or access to court-appointed attorneys, it may be difficult to convince prospective clients that the value of personalized representation would pay off.
Overcome this by highlighting your experience with the criminal justice system, and include educational content or videos on your website.
Standing out in the competitive market
Criminal Defense is a saturated practice area, so you may find that you need to do something to appear distinct. You can do this by focusing on niche areas of criminal defense (such as assault, DUI, etc.) or highlighting connections to the local legal community. Your reputation and their reputation and involvement in the local community will set you apart from your competition. You can highlight your involvement by getting testimonials and other social proof from previous clients and colleagues.
Tighten your intake best practices
You can invest all the money into legal marketing efforts, but you will lose out on those well-earned leads unless you have a tight intake process. The first step in your marketing plan is enhancing the firm's lead intake management system and processes to ensure that you can capture and track all of the leads through your various marketing channels. It will also help you qualify those leads and determine which ones are most likely to convert into paying clients.
Answer the phone
More than any other legal practice, it's imperative for a criminal defense firm to have someone answering the phone 24/7. If you can't personally staff this, many services, like Smith.ai, can help you outsource phone intake.
Use call tracking
If you are investing in marketing, then consider call-tracking a non-negotiable. Call tracking is vital for capturing leads because it lets you see how many calls are coming in and getting answered. This information can help you determine which marketing channels are most effective in generating leads. Call tracking can help you qualify those leads and decide which ones are most likely to convert into paying clients.
Use a CRM to track leads and follow up with clients
A customer relationship management (CRM) is a software or app that manages your law firm's relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. CRMs assist you in keeping track of the leads that come into your firm and manage contacts who have already converted to clients. Using a CRM such as Lawmatics can help you track leads and follow up with clients.
Many criminal defense firms use SMS texts to communicate with leads and clients. Choose a CRM that has texting capabilities, so you can connect with your client in a way that is comfortable for them.
Have a well-designed and responsive website
A criminal defense law firm should have a well-designed and responsive website. The website should be easy to navigate and provide information about the law firm, the services offered, and the team of attorneys. Update your website regularly with news and blog posts about criminal defense law.
The website should be designed with a responsive layout, meaning it will adjust to fit any screen size. Many people will be accessing your website from a mobile device. People who have been accused of a crime are usually anxious and spend a significant amount of time looking for educational material online.
Write content that speaks to your client
Creating videos, blog posts, and podcasts that discuss legal changes and answers to the most frequently asked questions are just a few examples of how you can relate to your client. Consistently creating informative material that demonstrates your authority and experience in criminal defense is an easy way to increase your reputation.
Practice area pages & FAQs
You want to have both practice area pages and educational blog content or resources when building your marketing content. Practice area content consists of substantial overviews of specific areas of law. For example, if you target DUI cases, you may have a DUI overview page and the following sub-pages: Chemical BAC Tests, Commercial Driver DUI, and Marijuana DUI. The sub-pages should answer frequently asked (or Googled) questions such as "What to do if I have to take a chemical BAC test?" or "What are the penalties for DUI while high?"
Note that those frequently asked questions can also be used as blog topics, but consider adding these FAQs and answers about 150 words to the appropriate practice area page.
Create pages explaining penal codes or ticket codes
When looking to create competitive content for your criminal defense website, you may consider building out pages that explain specific penal codes or ticket types. These codes are typically less competitive but can serve as educational pages for searchers, especially if they are facing a minor charge like a misdemeanor. You'll see this content tactic used by firms that defend speeding and driving tickets.
Blogging with authority
Once you have a foundation of practice area pages that speak to your services and clients, you can turn your attention to blogging. When thinking about topics for your blog, you want to get more specific about answering frequently asked questions or commenting on changes to laws. You can also highlight your firm's advocacy in the community.
Highlight bi-lingual staff
If you have staff that can speak another language, highlights it! Have the staff person translate your main pages and create a section of your website that helps that demographic. Having bi-lingual staff will help you connect with potential clients who may not speak English as their first language.
Online directories & reputation management
As a criminal defense attorney, you will want to make sure your law firm is listed in several online directories to attract new clients. Online directories also allow you to control your business listing and add additional information on your website, practice areas, and contact information.
Google My Business
Every brick & mortar business should have a Google My Business profile. It's free, and it is the absolute best way for Google to start serving your firm as a recommended business.
You will want to fill out your Google My Business profile with as much detail as possible for your criminal defense law firm. Use your registered business name, and resist the temptation to keyword stuff your firm name. While you may see competitors in your area with fake firm names like "Criminal Defense Lawyer Saul Goodman," this is not allowed on Google. Unless good old Saul registered his business name like that, Google would flag his profile.
To increase your firm’s appearance in local search results, you may consider having your office hours open longer than the standard 9 - 5 office hours. Google prefers to recommend relevant businesses that are still open when someone is searching. You can also add photos, videos, and posts to your account to help improve your firm's online visibility.
Get listed in directories
Law firms use online directories to list their practice areas and contact information. They can also use these directories to claim their business listings and add customer reviews. Claiming your business listing is important because it allows you to control the information displayed about your firm. You can also use online directories to highlight your firm's online reputation by getting customer reviews.
Some popular online directories for law firms include:
Many directories provide customers with a wide range of services with ratings to support them.
Reputation management: make the ask for reviews
In addition to online directories, you will also want to focus on reputation management, which monitors and improves your firm's online reputation. To start managing your online reputation, you will want to actively manage your social media accounts, respond to reviews, and monitor what is being said about your firm online.
Not every client will be comfortable leaving a review on Google or any other website, even if they loved your service, but you and your staff need to make the ask for a review. Many lawyers resist asking clients for a review because it makes them feel icky (a technical term). Think of asking for a review as part of your process as you end your case. Include language asking for a review in your final communications with your client, and make sure to follow up at least once after the initial ask. You'll be surprised that more people are willing to evangelize good service.
Ask your colleagues to leave reviews
Due to the sensitive nature of Criminal Defense, you may find that more of your clientele is less than excited to write about how you got their drivers' license reinstated after their multiple DUIs. One way to increase your social proof online is to have colleagues and people in the community leave reviews for you that talk about how great you are. Do not have these people pretend that you helped them with a criminal case; instead, they can relay how they know you and why you would be an excellent person to work with.
Respond to negative reviews
A negative review or two is not the end of the world (or your rankings). A few negative reviews show that you run a normal practice and didn't buy 382 5-star reviews like your shady competitor. A negative review can feel like a personal blow, but you can turn this into an advantage.
Once you cool off, find every brilliant lawyerly argument why your firm provided the best service and write it out. Have someone else review your response to edit for tone and professionalism. Grade.us has helpful scripts for responding to negative reviews.
Incorporate videos into your marketing strategy
Criminal defense law is a complex and ever-changing area of the law. You can use videos to answer questions about the law, provide information on changes in the law, and even ask clients to give video testimonials. You can use social media platforms to share your videos and get in front of your potential clients.
Start recording videos
One of the best ways to showcase your personality and passion is to record videos. Videos are a great way to show off your skills and explain complex legal concepts so that everyone can understand them. You can also use videos to answer frequently asked questions from potential clients.
When it comes to video creation, perfect is the enemy of good. You do not need a whole recording kit. You can simply begin by recording videos with your smartphone or built-in computer camera.
If you create video content, make sure to upload it to YouTube with searchable keywords. You can also embed your videos on your law firm's website.
Testimonial videos from satisfied clients
Video testimonials can help potential clients get a feel for what it would be like to work with you and your firm. To produce a testimonial video, ask your client to talk about their experience working with you. What did they like about your services? Would they recommend you to others in need of a criminal defense lawyer?
Remember to keep the testimonial video short, sweet, and to the point. A few minutes is all you need.
Create short videos to address FAQs
There is a reason why the TikTok short video platform has become wildly popular. Its short-form videos are easy to digest. You don't have to be on the TikTok platform or any specific social media platform, but you should consider filming 30 - 60 second videos that directly answer questions for your potential clients. Focus on one question and provide a clear and concise answer. By creating short videos that address frequently asked questions, you can help potential clients learn more about your practice and your services.
In addition to FAQ videos, you can also create short educational videos that explain complex legal concepts in layman's terms. These types of videos can be helpful for potential clients who want to learn more about the law and how it applies to their situation.
By adding videos to your marketing strategy, you can show potential clients that you are knowledgeable about the law and up to date on the latest changes.
Advertising, giveaways & sponsorships
If you have a budget to play with to generate leads and build brand exposure, advertising and sponsoring are great ways to get your firm's name out in the community.
Google Local Services Ads for Law Firms
Create short videos to address FAQs
Indeed you've seen competitors appearing above everyone else in Google with their Google Screened Service Ads. These ads appear at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) and are specifically designed to help people find local services. Google Local Services is a pay-per-lead advertising platform that puts above the pay-per-click listing and the map pack. That's not a shabby investment.
There are a few things to keep in mind if you decide to use Google Local Services Ads:
- You will need to create a Google My Business profile for your law firm.
- You will need to have a physical location in the city or town where you want to advertise.
- You will need to have a phone number associated with your law firm.
When someone is looking for a criminal defense attorney, time is of the essence. You want to be right at the top and ready to receive that call.
Some criminal defense firms will look down on this tactic, but a way to get your firm's name out in the community is to run special promotions. It's not uncommon to see DUI Defense Attorneys giving away up to $500 of free uber rides on big drinking holidays like St. Patricks Day or Independence Day. The added perk of these promotions is to gain some press and, ideally, backlinks to your website.
Sponsoring local teams or 5ks with good causes
Another way to get involved in the community and generate brand goodwill is to sponsor a local team or run a 5k race with a good cause. This type of sponsorship allows you to put your name and logo on event marketing materials, T-shirts, and websites. Sponsorships like this show that you're an active member of the community, which can make a difference if someone is looking to hire you.
Get (and convert) more leads with Lawmatics
Some of the most effective marketing strategies for a criminal defense practice include creating short videos to address FAQs, sponsoring local teams or events, and getting customer reviews. It’s important to keep up with marketing law firm trends whether that’s criminal defense or family law marketing. As a lawyer, these strategies can help you reach potential clients and show them that you are an active community member. Utilizing these strategies, like marketing automation for lawyers, can help grow your criminal defense practice.
Lawmatics can help criminal defense attorneys with automating intake and communications. Automated intake enables you to collect the necessary information from potential clients as quickly and efficiently. By using a law firm CRM, you can generate personalized communication templates, which will help you stay in touch with potential clients and keep them updated on the status of their cases. Lawmatics also offers a case management system that can help you keep track of all aspects of your practice, from client contact information to court dates and deadlines.
?What are the best lawyer directories?
Getting your firm listed on a legal directory is a worthwhile strategy for increasing your law practice's visibility and backlinks and growing your client base. An online directory is where people can find information about law firms. A lawyer must create an account and list their firm to be found. Lawyers can list their website, contact information, and practice areas in their profile.
The top directories for law firms are:
By listing your law practice in an online directory, you make it easy for potential clients to find information about your firm. Additionally, adding reviews to your legal directory listing can help you build trust with potential clients.
?What is an effective way to respond to negative reviews?
There's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to respond to a negative online review will vary depending on the situation. However, some tips on how to handle a negative online review include:
- Respond quickly and politely, thanking the reviewer for their feedback.
- Address any issues brought up in the review.
- Do not attack or respond defensively to the reviewer.
- Offer a solution if possible.
If you follow these tips, you can help mitigate any damage done by a negative online review and show potential clients that you are willing to address and resolve any issues they may have.
?How should criminal defense lawyers use video to market their firm?
Video can be an effective way to market a criminal defense law firm. Creating short videos that address FAQs can help potential clients learn more about your practice. Videos do not need to be perfect production quality to be practical marketing tools. Many potential clients may prefer videos that are more informal and less polished.
Creating short, informative videos that address some of the most common questions potential clients have about criminal defense law can help potential clients learn more about your practice and feel more comfortable hiring you. Additionally, videos can show potential clients that you are an active member of the community.
Regina Edwards, Smith.ai. Master Class: How to Improve Your Law Firm Intake. https://smith.ai/blog/master-class-how-to-improve-your-law-firm-intake
Hager & Schwartz, P.A. The Qualities to Look for in a Criminal Lawyer. https://www.defendyourcase.com/criminal-defense-blog/2020/september/the-qualities-to-look-for-in-a-criminal-lawyer/ September 04, 2020
Adam Gingery, CallRail. How to localize your content strategy in 2022. https://www.callrail.com/blog/how-to-localize-your-content-strategy-in-2022/
February 16, 2022.
Jonathan M. Pyzer, Clio. Guide to Marketing for Criminal Defense Lawyers. https://www.clio.com/blog/marketing-for-criminal-defense-lawyers/
Owen Jones, Grade.us. How To Deal With Negative Reviews On Google. https://blog.grade.us/negative-reviews-on-google/ May 2020