If you know about Avvo, you know that it is a ratings website for lawyers that rewards smart, experienced, and ethical attorneys with a high ranking for consumers to consider while looking for legal advice. If you’re not familiar with Avvo, pay attention, because the influential web startup is bound to have a major impact on how lawyers interact online, as the Internet becomes an even more essential part of everyday life. Last week, I had the opportunity to attend Avvo’s Avvocating conference in Orlando, which was packed with information sessions on the best practices of web marketing, the importance of Google local search, and the ethical questions that lawyers face online.

One of the lessons I took away is that lawyers should really take the time to develop their online strategy before jumping in to the world of online marketing. Setting up a blog, Facebook profile, and Twitter account, for example, will be effective only if your firm truly has the time to monitor those accounts and develop new, relevant content. Lawyers should also remember that social media is intended to be a way to connect with people and engage in discussions, not a marketing vehicle. You will develop a much more loyal and interested social following by posting and commenting on interesting stories (not just your own), and engaging in conversations with others.

Of course, this investment in social media and online marketing takes time and resources. Avvo emphasizes that if you decide to take the leap, it should never interfere with your attention to providing outstanding legal services to your clients. That’s probably why they invited Brian Tannebaum (who’s not quite a fan of Avvo), to speak on Friday morning. Tannebaum emphasizes that no amount of online marketing can live up to the power of simply being a great lawyer. On this point, he’s absolutely right, which is why attorneys who intend to engage online should really take the time to develop a strategy that includes honest engagement.

Thanks to the whole Avvo crew for a great conference. I’ll look forward to next year’s! A few more shout outs to presenters Vanessa Fox, who wrote the book Marketing in the Age of Google, and Mike Blumenthal, one of the world’s experts when it comes to Google Places information.

Andy Gillin

Andy Gillin received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California at Berkeley and his law degree from the University of Chicago. He is the managing partner of GJEL Accident Attorneys and has written and lectured in the field of plaintiffs’ personal injury law for numerous organizations. Andy is a highly recognized wrongful death lawyer in California.