Which case results are the most lucrative to display on a law firm’s website, and in what order should they be displayed?
Posting case results on your law firm’s website is good for business. In this blog post I’m going to use two case result examples from a single law firm to explain my thesis that all results, no matter their size or scope, can be effective in growing a law firm’s reach, reputation and client rapport.
One law firm, two very different case results.
The two results I use as examples were achieved by LawLytics member that practices plaintiff-side personal injury and medical malpractice.
The results couldn’t be more contrasting, but each is equally important for reasons I’ll explain.
Both are jury verdicts, but for very different amounts.
One of the results is a $55 million medical malpractice verdict against Johns Hopkins Hospital, and the other is a $47,000 jury verdict in an auto accident case.
Most attorneys would intuitively say that the large verdict is a better result to display. In many respects they would be correct. However, If a case result is not well-written, or lacks substance (see below) it loses much of its impact. This is especially true for more common, or less impressive results.
If the results are merely listed side by side with the monetary value, of course the $55 million verdict looks more impressive and is more meaningful. But simply listing results will sell your law firm and your accomplishments short.
However, viewed holistically, and assuming that the story of the result is well-crafted, the small verdict may be equally impactful. There are a number of reasons for this, which I’ll get to later in the post.
But before we look at how a small jury verdict is as important for business generation as a large one, it makes sense to spend a few moments talking about how case results should optimally be written.
The two examples I use to demonstrate my point were selected not only because one is nearly 12,000 times the size of the other, but because they are both from the same firm, and the case results themselves are particularly well-written*.
Writing effective law firm case results for your website.
What follows will be a brief primer on writing case results. For a more in-depth look at the topic, I recommend watching our on-demand webinar on the topic.
Your law firm’s case results should tell stories that potential clients, in a similar situation, can relate to. Good case results pages are not short. That is why LawLytics has a built-in case results module that lets attorneys display each case result on its own search engine-optimized page, while creating a client-friendly index that attorneys can easily reorder.
When writing a law firm case result, it is important that:
- It has a story arc so that it’s easy to read;
- It shows what the firm did to earn the result;
- It has a protagonist that is not the law firm or attorney (typically it is the client);
- It shows the odds that the client and firm were up against;
- It shows the struggle that was overcome;
- It shows that justice was done, order was restored, loss was prevented or whatever the happy outcome was;
- It personifies the client and shows that the law firm cares.
While there are numerous ways to accomplish the above points structurally and stylistically, it’s important to note that the goal is to create something that your potential clients can relate to.
In the case of a law firm’s disparate verdict amounts, let’s look at this from the perspective of different potential clients. We will first look at the big birth injury verdict, and then at the small personal injury verdict. In both cases we will examine the verdict from the perspective of different people.
The large medical malpractice verdict from the typical medical malpractice potential client’s perspective.
When a typical potential medical malpractice client comes to the firm’s website, he or she will naturally relate more to the medical malpractice verdicts than to personal injury results. Although the firm has several seven and eight-figure verdicts listed, the potential client will see and read the largest one first (assuming that it’s prominently displayed and accessible through the site’s navigation).
When a potential client sees a $55 million jury verdict, the big number in and of itself can do as much to deter him from contacting the firm as it does to attract him. This is because the potential client may not be able to relate to the outcome. The potential client may have trouble picturing himself receiving that much. Perhaps this is because he knows that his injuries are nowhere near as bad as the permanent physical and mental disabilities that Johns Hopkins Hospital’s negligence caused the plaintiff in that case.
If the high-water verdict is viewed in a bubble, a potential client with a case that has significant damages that don’t realistically rise to the level of that verdict may conclude that the law firm is out of his league, or would not be interested in taking his much less significant case.
On the other hand, if viewed in a bubble, another potential client may incorrectly interpret that case result as realistically achievable for him, which can result in client expectation management problems during the client intake and/or representation processes.
The large verdict is important to every potential medical malpractice client because it shows what the law firm is capable of achieving. Combined with other information about the firm (including but not limited to other case results), the verdict shows that the firm is well funded and able to handle the most complex and highest stakes cases. This should assure any medical malpractice plaintiff with a less serious case that the firm is experienced and capitalized sufficiently to handle their case.
The large medical malpractice verdict from the perspective of another catastrophic birth injury client.
Having an analogy that directly correlates to a past result is highly effective at clearing the hurdle of competence in the potential client’s mind.
If the potential client has a similar case, there will be few other firms that can point to analogous results. This gives the firm a leg up on the competition. But it’s not usually going to be the deciding factor.
A potential client with a catastrophic birth injury claim may determine that, although a firm is demonstrably competent and otherwise well-equipped to handle future similar cases, there is something that the client can’t relate to. This can happen when the case result is written in a way that will impress other lawyers (as $55 million dollar verdicts tend to do this, there’s not a lot of additional information that would be needed for to impress lawyers). This is why the case result tells the story of what happened to the plaintiff in a way that other laymen plaintiffs can relate to.
Stating the verdict amount makes a logical connection. Stating the family’s story makes an emotional connection. And ultimately, it’s the emotional connection that is going to drive the client’s decision about which firm to contact and ultimately hire.
Despite the high-stakes involved in serious birth injury cases, effective marketing for such cases recognizes the fact that potential medical malpractice clients are not making a calculated economic decision.
They feel like they haven’t been heard.
They have a story to tell.
The defendants’ are not going to acknowledge their story.
They are looking for a law firm that sympathizes with them, and that is willing to listen to them, understand them and fight for them. The case result needs to convey this.
The large medical malpractice verdict from the perspective of a personal injury client.
What happens when an auto-accident client views the $55 million case result? Although it’s an impressive number, the dollar figure is irrelevant. The potential client in an auto-accident case with damages in the five or six-figure range will look a this verdict like somebody looks at a story of somebody winning the lottery or getting a $50 million dollar NBA contract.
That’s nice, she may think, but it’s not me.
Then, when the lower-range auto accident client considers the verdict and the firm’s role in it more closely, she may decide that her case is too “small potatoes” for the firm. If she makes that conclusion, she may then erroneously decide that because their case is small, the firm is less likely to give it their full attention.
The way to mitigate this is to tell the plaintiff’s story and to make sure that other relevant case results are also accessible.
The large medical malpractice verdict from the perspective of a professional referral source.
Referral sources want to know that they are sending the client they are referring to an attorney who will handle their case competently and who will treat the client well. The treatment of the potential client reflects back on the referral source. Therefore, they want to make referrals that will make them look good.
A well-written story of a large jury verdict accomplishes two important things for referral sources. First, the amount itself establishes competence. Second, because the story of the result is something that people can relate to, it’s something that’s easy to share with the potential client as part of the referral process. This prevents the referring professional from having to explain much to justify the referral. It also gives them an insurance policy against the potential client thinking the the referral is being made based on something other than merit.
The accident verdict from the perspective of the typical auto-accident plaintiff.
When a typical potential auto-accident plaintiff views the firm’s verdict against State Farm, they will see the story of an injured plaintiff that the big insurance company refused to acknowledge. They will see that the firm cared and went to great lengths to fight for a result that, ultimately, did little to enrich the firm compared to some of the firm’s mega-verdicts.
This should give any auto-accident potential client a high level of confidence that the firm is not only competent to handle their case, but that they take smaller cases (and take them to trial) for the right reasons.
When contrasted against the firm’s big verdicts, the way this case result is written demonstrates the firm’s high-level of caring for all of its clients, regardless of upside potential. It also subtly demonstrates that the firm’s reputation for fighting for its clients transcends the dollar amount at stake.
The accident verdict from the perspective of the typical medical malpractice client.
When a potential medical malpractice client looks through the firm’s case results and sees the auto accident case, it will provide the client a good contrast against the high-dollar birth injury result.
Although neither of these two results are precisely this potential client’s scenario, the interplay of the two reinforces that the firm is competent and well funded enough to take extremely expensive and high-stakes cases, and caring enough to take low-end cases to trial as well. This places the typical medical malpractice client, with potential damages somewhere between these two cases in the “Goldilocks” zone.
The accident verdict from the perspective of the catastrophic birth injury client.
When a potential client with a catastrophic birth injury sees the low dollar personal injury case result, she will not be deterred by it because it tells a story that she can relate to. She wants to understand that she is choosing a firm that cares about its clients and fights hard, regardless of the stakes. This result will also help relieve any anxiety she is feeling about whether her case is important enough for the firm.
The accident verdict from the perspective of the referral source.
When a referral source sees the auto-accident case result, he will feel better making the referral to the firm. He will understand that the firm will take care of his referral, regardless of how big or small the case is (assuming the firm accepts the case). He will be reassured that the firm is not one that churns-and-burns low dollar cases to make quick and profitable settlements that don’t serve the clients’ best interests.
Although case results like this may attract referrals for cases that a law firm doesn’t want to accept because there are low damages or unclear liability, they do increase the number of impressions (interactions with referral sources) that a law firm will have. And the more referrals a law firm entertains, the more likely they are to get even more referrals that result in viable and profitable cases.
Not all case results are created equal. As in the examples in this post, sometimes the results differ by orders of magnitude. However, every positive case result is a story worth telling, and telling well.
As you think about how to best present your law firm’s accomplishments, take some time and think through the multiple audiences that you may have for each case result, and take the time to craft each case result into a compelling story that moves your firm’s marketing forward.