My Website Is Worse Than Your Website

Eric Turkewitz at New York Personal Injury Law posts that he hates his website.  Turk is one of the guys who gets it.  If you’re a PI lawyer, or frankly a civil litigator of any stripe, Turk would be the guy you want to emulate, because he reflects the combination of zealous representation and deep ethical concern that characterizes how a civil litigator attorney should be.  And that’s his problem.

It isn’t the style or functionality of my website that I hate, it’s my writing. The site is my electronic brochure and it’s designed so that folks in need of a personal injury attorney can find it and consider retaining my firm. But creating such a website is a real problem. . .

And that’s the hard part, impressing the potential client. Because most of us were not brought up to brag. We’re taught as kids to be modest. Yet on the website we must do the opposite by showing past results and clucking about ourselves, and this does not come naturally.

Turk explains the nuances involved, the conflicting issues confronted, in greater detail.  But the bottom line is that our static websites exist to show that we exist.  Like Turk, I have one.  Like Turk, I absolutely hate mine.  Just like Turk.

I don’t think I’ve gone back to look at my website more than twice since it was put up.  It embarrasses me.  I am ashamed of its blatant self-promotion, and it pains me whenever anybody reminds me of what is said there.  I refuse to play the search engine optimization game, the inclusion of language designed to trick search engines into putting my website at the top of the list so that it will be front and center when someone types in “criminal defense lawyer.”  I neither seek that sort of clientèle, nor wish to ever be in competition with that crowd of lawyers. 

But even without SEO, my website stinks of braggadocio.  I tried to think of a way to express my approach toward my work, and fell horribly short.  It all sounds so empty and meaningless to me.  Every lawyer claims to “really care” about his clients.  Every lawyer claims to fight for their rights.  I sound no different than everyone else.  You couldn’t tell me from the most incompetent fool based on website.  Maybe I am the most incompetent fool,  You would have no way of knowing.

We live in an era where we occasionally see wretched lawyer ads — and now solicitation by website or blogs. While such lawyers are few and far between, their antics may get broadcast widely in the electronic age, and it sends a powerfully negative message to the public. Those horrid ads, as well as the occasional loopy lawsuit that finds its way to Overlawyered or the local papers where they are often justifiably skewered, helps to create and feed a deep cynicism when it comes to attorneys.
Because of my frequent criticism of lawyer marketing and those who promise wealth and fame if only you pay them to market for you, I’ve intentionally made myself a target for criticism by virtue of having a website myself.  While there’s a link on my blawg to it, it is not, as some have argued, to use the blawg for self-promotion, but rather to provide access to some information about the guy who deigns to put his views in writing for others to read.  If you don’t know who I am, you have no reason to think that anything I write is worthy of consideration.  But I understand how easy it is to jump to the wrong conclusion.  My website is a nightmare.

Turk hasn’t figured out a way to exist on the internet while maintaining a comfortable level of dignity.  I’ve looked at literally thousands of lawyer websites and have yet to see one that doesn’t make me wince.  Most are more professionally done than mine, with far better design and text.  If I had an idea of how I would like it to be, perhaps I would pay sufficient attention to have it done more professionally.  As of now, I can’t bear to think about it.  I haven’t figured out what I could possibly say or write that wouldn’t make me sound like a self-promoting, disingenuous bag of slime.  There is no way to explain what I do, and who I am, that rings true and sincere.

Every lawyer needs clients to stay in business.  While the types of clients I typically represent don’t come from Google searches, I’ve heard from many other criminal defense lawyers that they do get calls from their websites, and that these calls are how they keep busy and feed their families.  I don’t begrudge them a practice and a living.  Their websites don’t have to please me.  My only concern is my own existence on the internet, and my critical view of my own effort is that it is absolutely awful and an embarrassment.

I’m particularly thankful that Turk takes such an introspective view of his website, because if anybody will figure out how to do this without appearing deceptive, or bragging, or disingenuous, it’s Turk.  And when he does, I will learn from him. 

Until then, it’s unlikely that I’ll do much of anything to change my website as I just can’t bear to look at it.  It’s not me.  And yet it unfortunately is.  And I am ashamed of it.

5 thoughts on “My Website Is Worse Than Your Website

  1. Packratt

    Sure, I don’t depend on my site for getting new clients or anything… but the feeling is still similar so I don’t think it’s uncommon. I’m pitiful at self-promotion, I don’t even try it anymore. I think my writing stinks, and the site itself looks atrocious.

    But, I’ll always be my toughest critic and it drives me to do better… and I figure that even if it’s not as good as it can be, it still offers something people need to see.

    …I think the same goes for your site, you might hate it, but it needs to be out there even if it’s not great because you do care about what you do and what you do does help people.

    Just my two pennies.

  2. Jdog

    It’s the difference between advertising and marketing.

    A guy stands at the rail in the local bar, takes a gulp of his fifth beer, and shouts, “I’m great in bed” — advertising.

    The gorgeous woman down the the rail takes a little sip from her first Cosmopolitan, adjusts her cleavage, blushes and says, quietly, in a voice that could give a monk wood, “He’s great in bed” — marketing.

    And, of course, a bunch of guys in their pajamas sitting at computers and posting on every blog they can find, saying, “He’s great in bed, and that’s because he takes Cialis(tm)” — SEO.

  3. Thorne

    What I get from Eric’s . . . errr . . . Turk’s post is this — know your audience.

    When you’re speaking in front of a group, you’re so aware of your audience, but when you’re typing at a keyboard, it’s easy to forget who’s watching you, and why.

  4. SHG

    The only thing my clients want to know is whether they will win.  I had considered stating on my website “If you pay me a lot of money, you will win,” but as I attempted to do so, my head exploded and made quite a mess. 

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