lawyer holding a phone to her ear with pen and paper

Starting Your Own Firm: When Is the Right Time to Develop Your Website?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn

Every day, we hear from lawyers who are planning to go out on their own in the coming months. They will need branding and a website. But when is the right time to start developing a site? One month before the launch of the firm? 12 months?

Time is a very important ingredient when it comes to successful website development. Even the most skilled team of developers cannot whip up a perfectly functional website in a single week. So, is now the right time for you?

This article explains basic considerations for website development for lawyers who plan to set up their own firm, including a helpful tip if early announcement is not possible (i.e., your current bosses can’t find out). 

You need 1-6 months to build a website properly

It takes time to develop a professional website. A simple landing page and contact form are not enough to support a growing law firm!

Expect to spend anywhere from one to six months developing your website.

The development timeframe will depend on how much customization you need, the level of complexity your site requires, and the skill of your developer. 

To be sure that your site is ready when you launch your business, get a head start on development six months before you plan to open your doors. 

It’s wise to give yourself extra time at this stage. Getting a jumpstart on development gives you plenty of time to thoughtfully design a site—and deal with any errors ahead of opening day. 

You need 3-5 months to rank with Google

Once your website is built, you will need even more time for that site to establish credibility with the search engines. 

Most experts say you should expect to wait between three to five months before you start seeing results with ranking on Google.

These months are extremely important if you plan to generate leads from your website. Investing in your website early on can help you hit the ground running by giving Google a chance to index your site and trust its content. You can launch sooner but organic leads may be harder to come by.

But don’t launch too early!

There is one major reason you may not want to launch your website too early: Your current firm might find out! 

In many states, there is a requirement under the Rules of Professional Conduct that an attorney’s name be publicly listed on the website. 

If you are not yet ready to share the news that you are starting your own firm, then you may need to wait to launch a website until you can publicly announce the launch of your business. This doesn’t mean you need to hold off on the development of the site, however, most agencies provide you with a link to a staging site that won’t be indexed by the search engines.

A practical website development timeline for a new firm 

Here is a practical timeline for lawyers interested in developing a website for their new firm. Remember that the more time you invest in the development process now, the less time you’ll have to spend fixing mistakes and managing the website in the future. 

The goal is to hit the ground running with a reliable website so that you can focus on managing your business.

1. Spend time finding the right website developer. Review their portfolio to make sure they have a track record of producing websites like the one you want. Look for a developer with law-specific experience. Read reviews and testimonials (and not just the ones on their website). Pay attention to their communication style, too.

2. Start the development process at least 3 months before you’re ready to open your doors. Give yourself a healthy amount of lead time. Website development is a collaborative process between business owner and developer. You should set aside regular time to give feedback to your developer to ensure they can proceed in a timely fashion.

3. If you can’t launch the site early, work with your marketing agency on some quick lead-gen tactics. If you are unable to publicly announce your business ahead of time, seek out a marketing agency that can help you with lead generation tactics like PPC. These can help you get immediate short-term results while your firm gains ground in the organic SERPs.

Review and next steps

Hanging out your own shingle is an exciting stage in your career. It’s also a critical moment that could make or break your reputation. 

Get help from a reputable developer to ensure that you have a reliable, well-designed website ready to support the launch of your new business. Allow between three and six months to develop and publish your website before opening day. If you can’t publish ahead of time for whatever reason, seek help with short-term tactics like PPC.