Every attorney or agency knows of someone who had a nightmare experience with FindLaw. If you find yourself wondering how to get out an abusive FindLaw contract, you’re certainly not alone. About once a month, we get a call from a former Findlaw client who is having difficulty getting access to the digital properties that they either paid Findlaw to build for them or owned prior to their relationship with Findlaw. Many of these law firms are shocked when they find out that they were essentially renting their website from Findlaw.
As one of the nation’s leading SEO agencies for law firms, we see this all the time, and we can help you break away from FindLaw if need be. Keep reading for our complete overview of FindLaw’s services, and get in touch if you’d like to chat.
Should Your Law Firm Use FindLaw?
Our position is that no, you should not sign up for a Findlaw website, use their marketing services, or pay for the PPC ads in their directory. We will explore the following, among other issues, in depth below:
- FindLaw holds your website hostage – you don’t own it
- FindLaw’s SEO and PPC services are poorly managed and don’t yield results
- FindLaw has a tremendous amount of conflict of interest
We will also show you how to safely leave FindLaw without losing digital momentum.
Should You Use FindLaw’s Legal Reference Material?
FindLaw was founded as a legal reference, so yes, the informational material is helpful. Many accident and injury victims use FindLaw’s resources to know if they should hire a lawyer, and the legal reference material is accurate, up to date, and worth reading.
Should You Sign Up For FindLaw’s Directory?
Truthfully, the main value a profile on FindLaw’s directory can provide is the backlink you’ll receive to your website. Attorney backlinking is a challenging and competitive field, so this backlink can help you rank higher on Google. It’s expensive to have a profile though! It costs $158 per month to host a premium profile on FindLaw’s website – with the premium option, you can add multiple attorneys, practice areas, links, and content. So if you are heavily invested in SEO, and you have the budget to do so, it might be worth signing up for a profile.
Should You Pay For Ad Clicks in FindLaw’s Directory?
FindLaw also sells ad space at the top of their search results, and while the clicks should be relevant to your practice area, they cost the same as a click on Google ($150+ per click). You may not believe this, but we have seen FindLaw showing 19+ ads above their organic search results!
For reference, one of our largest clients received 80 website referrals from FindLaw’s PPC ads over a six month period of time in 2022. We tracked roughly 20 conversion actions in Google Analytics (click activity – so in reality, we need to weed a few of those out). Based on the cost per click, the actual cost per lead was likely $900+. We have no insight as to whether those turned into cases or not, but it’s unlikely that more than 25% of them were cases.
Should You Hire FindLaw To Build Your Website?
No, under no circumstances should you hire FindLaw to build your website. They will set you up on a template that looks exactly like the websites of thousands of other firms, you will pay a monthly fee just to host and keep the website, and they will own your creative assets. You are better off working with and agency or specialist that provides law firm web design.
How Much Does a FindLaw Website Cost?
Some firms pay as little as $500 per month for their FindLaw website, but they are getting what they paid for. This price point would include about 5 pages, no additional services or support, and it will never rank on Google or generate leads. Lawyers that opt for a more robust package on FindLaw will pay $5,000+ per month. You could hire a real SEO agency that will drive significant revenue for you at that price point.
You Don’t Own Your FindLaw Website
So you want to end your contract – what about your image files, headshots, infographics, and site design? Do those just disappear? Sadly, you often are set up to lose all of that unless you pay a fee to FindLaw (consult your contract for specific details).
There are several horror stories available online about people trying to get out of their Findlaw contracts and wanting to take their websites with them. Many Findlaw contracts were structured in such a way that FindLaw owns your firm’s website while under contract. The content is impermanent. This means that once you stop paying for service, your content and links in high domain authority properties are removed.
This has resulted in many lawyers having a significant amount of trouble transferring site content once a contract is up. Inversely, owning your own website is essentially permanent and relatively inexpensive these days, with no need to tie yourself into a payment plan for the foreseeable future of your business, and any gains in ranking and web visits won’t vanish as soon as you stop paying high priced service fees.
FindLaw May Own and Control Your Domain Name
Many FindLaw customers don’t realize that if you don’t purchase your own domain name and host it on your own hosting account (GoDaddy, Dreampress, etc.), FindLaw has probably purchased your domain for you and is hosting it on their own servers. Worse, that may be where your email address is hosted too — and you obviously can’t be without that for long.
It’s a borderline immoral practice (in our opinion), and it very often keeps firms locked into contracts because if you leave, you could lose your domain name.
What you can do: If Findlaw owns your domain name, ask them to add your firm and your IT or marketing consultant registrants in the account. This will then allow you to transfer the domain over to a hosting account that you own. Per your contract, you may have to pay a fee to do so, but you may have no choice.
However, if your website is fairly new and you don’t have many backlinks pointing to your domain name, we recommend simply starting from scratch. Buy a similar domain name on your own, and have your new agency or consultant connect your new website to that domain.
Should You Let FindLaw Manage Your SEO, PPC Ads, and Content Strategy?
No, you should not let FindLaw manage your marketing. Lawyers who purchase a website from FindLaw often get upsold into SEO services for personal injury lawyers, PPC management for law firms, and even content marketing for lawyers.
The problem is three-fold:
- They rely on their own network of backlinks to try and help you rank, so if you discontinue with them after getting few results, you will lose all of those backlinks
- They have thousands of customers, so after you sign up, you will rarely hear from them – frankly, they don’t care about your success
- The are more incentivized to rank their own web directory instead of ranking your website
FindLaw’s SEO services are notoriously basic, and you will not be able to compete in a serious market with them as your “agency.” They will list you on a handful of directories that all of your competitors have, do basic on-site SEO work, and add links from their directory to your website. Their PPC management and content writing are very much the same.
More recently, FindLaw contracts state that if you purchased content written specifically for you (like blog posts, for instance), you own that content. The same does not necessarily apply to homepage content, general practice area content, and the copy that comes with your website.
The good news is that a firm like ours can very quickly rebuild the content that was on your FindLaw site, and the new content will be exponentially better than the previous content. We have several proprietary methods for doing keyword research, and we’ve tested these methods on scores of sites — you are often better off without FindLaw-created content as they sometimes use spun, low-quality or duplicated content.
FindLaw Has Serious Conflicts of Interest With Your Firm
FindLaw Needs To Rank Its Own Directory
FindLaw only has value if their directory ranks on Google search for phrases like “slip and fall lawyer in Cincinnati.” If they get that organic traffic, they can charge law firms a premium for digital real estate on their directory.
But wait – you also want your website to rank for those phrases!
So if you hire FindLaw to execute your SEO strategy, they are directly competing with their own directory to rank your website. Either that, or they meter the results they are willing to produce for your website.
FindLaw is Part of a Competing Network
FindLaw was purchased by Thomson Reuters, so it joins SuperLawyers, Abogado.com, and LawInfo.com under the same umbrella. If you are relying on FindLaw for your marketing, they are cannibalizing your digital visibility. Here’s an example:
FindLaw promotes The Law Office of Lauren Clark, LLC, a bankruptcy attorney’s office, as a “success story” on the FindLaw website. However, if you Google “Charleston Bankruptcy Attorney,” The Law Office of Lauren Clark, LLC is outranked by superlawyers.com.
FindLaw Deals in Shady Backlinking Practices
Firstly, you will lose all of the backlinks to your website from FindLaw properties if you discontinue their ongoing SEO service. This alone qualifies as paid Link Spam, per Google’s guidelines. It’s highly unlikely that Google values and backlinks from FindLaw.com, since the search giant is obviously aware of FindLaw and its practices.
Secondly, FindLaw has engaged in explicit link spam in the past. This blog post from Kevin O’Keefe shows how FindLaw literally charged law firms thousands of dollars for link placements in their blogs and on other pages throughout their website.
Truthfully, you don’t want to get involved in this web of ethical dilemmas and marketing mediocrity.
How To Leave FindLaw
If you’ve finally reached your wits end because of high costs with no return, absent account managers, poorly-written content, or some other issue with FindLaw, you’ll have to tread lightly while discontinuing your contract.
Read Your Contract Carefully
We already know that FindLaw holds your website hostage, but you may own your own domain name and even some of your content. Read your contract again to make sure you know what you do and don’t own. You will also want to see what your buyout package is for the website’s design files – FindLaw often charges 4% of the “website’s annual value” for a buyout.
Call Majux or Another Law Firm Marketing Agency 2-3 Months in Advance
We have helped many firms through the process of leaving FindLaw, but if you terminate your contract and lose your content, website, and other web properties before giving us any notice, there’s very little we can do about that.
Firstly, we would evaluate if there is any redeeming value in your current domain name, website, and content. There may not be – this is common with FindLaw sites!
We will either help migrate your web properties into your ownership, or we will recommend that you start entirely from scratch. That is often the best option.
FindLaw Reviews: Who is Leaving These Good Reviews?
While researching for this blog, we read over 100 reviews on FindLaw. The good reviews came almost exclusively from:
- People using the research tool, which is perfectly fine
- Employees, of course
- Consumers who found an attorney
After scouring review platforms and Reddit, we did not find more than one or two reviews from law firms stating that the marketing services and web design helped them make money.
See these links for some FindLaw reviews:
Life is Better on the Other Side – Take This Opportunity to Leave FindLaw
From a marketing perspective, leaving FindLaw is a great opportunity to start over. Majux, as well as many other reputable agencies, do not want to own your website, Google accounts, hosting, or content. We build those for you and make sure you have ownership credentials.
Furthermore, we do not lock clients into 12, 24, or 36 month contracts. That’s an irresponsible business practice that the majority of the industry has moved on from and we believe that you have the right to leave if you so choose.
If you have any questions about leaving FindLaw and finding a new marketing partner, please call the law firm seo experts at Majux – we would love to help.