Friday, April 29, 2005
Your Law Firm URL
Something that many firms forget when creating a website is that somebody owns the URL for the website - and that ownership may be a difficult issue if the firm breaks up or changes its name. Switching a website from one URL to another can significantly affect the site's traffic, and abandoning a former URL can cause problems where clients are relying on outdated materials to find a firm, or are relying upon email addresses they have used in the past to contact a firm or its clients.
In my opinion, beyond ensuring that they (and not their website designer or hosting company) own their URL, firms should attempt to secure URL's which won't have to be changed in the event of personnel changes. If you're never going to change the first name in a firm named after a list of partners, consider it for your URL - be a butzel.com or a sidley.com. But if there may be change, think about using a URL that doens't need to change along with the personnel. No matter what else you choose, draft a partnership agreement which holds that the former URL stays with the firm even if for the limited purpose of maintaining website and email redirects to a new site.
And, with all due respect to the firms which create a website from the first letters of their partners' surnames followed by "law" or "lawyers", think about what you are spelling out. If your firm is Bryan, Allen & Davis, PC, it probably isn't a good idea to post your site under the URL "badlawyers.com" - even if it is memorable.