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Dish on dismal, dotty or delightful law firm websites -- and win a $20 Starbucks card!
Now is your chance to weigh in with nominations for the First Annual Law Firm website awards -- the Big Law Webbies.
Let's face it: Big Law needs a good competition to step up its game. No one in today's world hires so much as a plumber without first checking the company's Internet presence. Like all businesses, law firms rely on their websites to sell themselves to current and potential sources of revenue. I mean, um, clients.
Let's reward classy creativity and call out exceptional mug shots and clip art. Come on -- you know you want to ... .
Like everything Big Law does, Big Law websites tend to be formulaic and predictable. Firms trip over one another to shoehorn the same content into the same template. And the few who try to get creative usually go too far. Way too far.
But summarizing the essence of Big Law is tough. How can you reduce a global organization of talented lawyers and a variety of practice areas to a few sound bites and head shots? And, since no one seems to be handing out awards for Best Big Law Blawg Cinematography, who really cares? Until now, of course. And that's where you come in.
The First Annual Big Law Webbies will require nominations from you, the viewers of Big Law websites. (Also, since I'm a flexible sort of person, if you find some truly stellar smaller law firm websites, please feel free to send them in. Why overlook true talent?)
I have assembled a few categories and examples to get us started on this little adventure, but you must e-mail your nomination to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get this rolling. All nominations received before May 31 will be considered. If we publish your nomination, you'll get a $20 Starbucks gift card -- and we'll even protect your identity, if you want us to (though you have to let us know who you are so we can send you your free java card).
MOST UNAPOLOGETIC AND RAMPANT USE OF ARCHITECTURAL ELEMENTS IN PHOTOGRAPHY
White & Case -- www.whitecase.com
I challenge any of you out there to find a Big Law website featuring more pictures of architectural elements than the White & Case site. Heavy on the skyscraper-reflecting-blue-sky-with-white-puffy-clouds theme, this site also features photographs of steel support beams, glass and steel staircases and dramatic angles of various large windows and atriums. It is as if the Web design company searched for "reflective skyscraper glass" in an image gallery and then accidentally hit "purchase all."
The only pictures of human beings are miniscule thumbnails of their lawyers -- viewable only if you are searching for someone by name. This website's message seems to be, "We are a strong firm built of high-grade structural steel and reflective glass, but we are not warm and fuzzy, so please do not hug us when you greet us." It also implies: "We have such high rates of turnover that we do not want to feature photographs of our current lawyers, as such photographs would be dated as soon as loaded."
MOST OBSCURE BLOG TOPIC
Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice -- www.wcsr.com
I am not making this up -- Womble maintains a blog dedicated solely to the topic of ... furniture law. Seriously -- www.womblefurniturelaw.blogspot.com.
Are developments in the tables-and-chairs-chifforobes-sofas-and-bedsteads business so frequent and notable that a blog should exist to update readers on this topic? Apparently so. Please, oh please, find me a more obscure Big Law blog.
BEST TESTIMONIAL QUOTE
What else can I say? Do your best to top this. I'm begging you.
BEST HEAD SHOTS
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher -- www.gibsondunn.com
When I clicked on the link to "lawyers" on the Gibson Dunn site and was treated to a beautifully done professional array of great portraits of their lawyers, I thought they would be a shoe-in for the best lawyer head-shot award.
But alas, that slide deck was limited to some "featured" lawyers, and when you click on a random Cog like, oh say, Michael B. Smith, that expectation is shattered, and you realize that, just like most other firms, their head shots resemble the photographic quality expended during police lineups.
Sorry, Michael. Your head shot is not as important as that poignant and pensive portrait of Orin Snyder on the escalator in New York or that great stately portrait of Fred L. Pillon in San Francisco. To be honest -- Mr. Pillon's head shot is equally mug-shotish in comparison to this portrait. I wonder what you had to do to qualify for the fancy portraits? But hey, at least Gibson went with actual lawyers in their portraits and not stock photos of random corporate-looking people -- firms that do this, you know who you are.
I think the triple-threat "action photo" head shots of the lawyers at Boies, Schiller & Flexner -- www.bsfllp.com -- may be the best head shots out there. These anti-mug shots show the Boies Schiller lawyers in action -- William S. Ohlemeyer makes a point with a pen; Ellen P. Blanchard demonstrates her superior listening skills; and Lee S. Wolosky laughs heartily at what must be a good joke. I do not know these people, but this website makes me think I do.
I suspect that is because this firm is still small enough to budget for three classy pictures per lawyer. Maybe they should not even be considered Big Law. But please, if your Big Law head shot looks better than a mug shot, let me know. Nominations are open.
WORST HEAD SHOTS
Baker & McKenzie -- www.bakermckenzie.com
In addition to being difficult to find on the website, Baker & McKenzie's head shots are some of the worst I've seen on the Big Law web.
When you search for a last name, the site gives you a disclaimer: "Not all lawyers or professionals in all locations are included in these results." What does that mean? Could they not spring for a search feature that could actually locate all of their employees? I mean, I see that they have more than 3,900 lawyers worldwide, but come on.
CHEAPEST WEBSITE PRODUCTION COST PER PARTNER
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom -- www.skadden.com
I am not saying there are not sites with worse production values, but this award must go to the firm that has the highest profits per partner and the cheapest per capita website production costs.
For a firm as large and profitable as Skadden, this website says, "We spend all our millions elsewhere." Forget springing for clip art or glamorous head shots. This site is bare bones. It looks like maybe someone decided to farm out the website design duties to a class of college kids studying Web design as a class project.
These websites and awards are just the first wave of nominations for the First Annual Big Law Webbies. E-mail your nominations now and stay tuned for next week's categories: Creepiest Mascot, Most Elaborate Firm History, Most Ambiguous Tag Line and, of course, the grandaddy of them all -- the "What Were They Thinking -- Worst Big Law website" Award.
Also, feel free to create a category of your own if you find something truly noteworthy not listed here.
Rest assured, your nominations will be judged by a panel of semi-biased and fully amused judges -- yours truly and the editors of the Fulton County Daily Report. So start surfing, people -- and take notes. Your grande-caramel-pumpkin-mocha-latte-chai-smoothie awaits.
Do you have dirt to dish? Do you have a column idea? Or do you just need to vent in six-minute increments? E-mail the Snark at email@example.com.