Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, P.C. (“Chambliss”) is not your grandmother’s Tennessee law firm, in spite of the fact that it is 126 years old. From a style of doing business standpoint,the 56 lawyers are accessible, approachable, entrepreneurial, scrappy (the opposite of white-shoe), big fun (not boring), innovative and forward-thinking. From its one office in Chattanooga, lawyers represent clients throughout the region and beyond.
Chambliss, a Meritas firm, had a list of marketing goals it wanted the website to achieve:
- Leap ahead of the other Chattanooga and regional firms by demonstrating the innovative personality and great depth of the firm.
- Structure content for the mobile and scanning reader.
- Create flexible lawyer, practice and industry portals (with flexible tabs), so each lawyer and team can present practice, reputation strengths and unique go-to-market tactics.
- Show “approachable” with new full body, large-scale lawyer photos.
- Prove “accessible” and “trusted team” by including other lawyers’ names/contact info on each lawyer bio, in addition to their assistants’ contact info. (I’ve never seen a lawyer’s team added and executed in quite this way – and I’m a huge fan of it.)
- Deliver all content in the site in one-click from any page.
The website realized all these goals and more.
The old site:
The new Chamblisslaw.com:
The minute visitors click on the home page, they will notice three things:
- “Jac,” the black lab (named after beloved partner, Jac Chambliss)
- The global navigation in the center, and
- The rotating carousel of client stories and other news.
On hover, the unique, wrap-around expanding mega-menus show search menus for People and Media Center, the latest Legal Updates, Seminars/Events, Firm News and Articles/Publications without cluttering up the home page.
Chambliss wanted a strategy that reflected how they represent clients and how they care for each other -– “Fiercely Loyal” was the short phrase that most resonated with the website committee. Lawyers wanted a clean, contemporary design that was arresting and memorable. The day after launch, clients were already engaging with lawyers about the new website. One asked, “What is Jac’s billing rate?” –- and “If we go after opposing counsel, I want to hire Jac.”
There is a live Twitter feed in the global footer, proving that the lawyers (and the site) are current and relevant.
The People section deserves special mention. Paralegals are critical team players, so they have full bios and are not segregated in search results – they appear in alpha order along with the shareholders and other lawyers. Each person can design a “personal portal” on the bios with the flexible tabs –- choosing the tabs that best support his or her practice and advance the lawyer’s reputation.
The bio design shows lawyers as accessible, approachable and original — they are shown as they live and practice — some more casual, dictated by the type of clients they serve — and some more formal. Each lawyer chooses the tabs that support his or her practice and how they want to develop their reputations. Bios also have social media links.
Industry groups and practice teams can also design the “portal” space that will resonate
best with the clients they serve.
Chambliss lost its marketing manager at the beginning of the project, so it was led by the Information Technology Director, Rhonda Glenn, and assisted by two employees, plus Albert Waterhouse and his team from Waterhouse Public Relations. The firm had an active, courageous and enthusiastic website committee, which included Dana Perry (@danabperry), the managing shareholder. She was actively involved in the process and she can largely be credited with the winning outcome.
In a post-mortem debrief with Dana, she said:
From the managing partner standpoint, I can’t emphasize
enough how important it is to build consensus within the firm’s attorneys and
engage them in the process. We involved all the practice and industry
leaders, in reviewing content and in approving the high level creative
direction. Perhaps most importantly, we had a website committee skewed
toward young lawyers that set the stage for our project. We realized that
we were building our digital home for the firm’s up-and-coming lawyers, and
needed to develop a site with the benefit of their thoughts and insights about the
firm — and features needed in the new site.
When it comes down to the wire, though, as a managing
partner, I firmly believe that you have to respect and accede to the creative
professionals you retain about the design of the site. My skills,
training and professional development have been in estate planning and elder
law, and in the past few years, law firm management, not law firm website design and
creative content. I think the best decision we made was to go with the
creative vision and recommendations that Content Pilot presented to us.
In six days, (with a holiday weekend in the middle of this timeframe), the site has had nearly 2,000 visits, with an average of 6.73 pages viewed per visitor. Visitors on desktops are averaging 3:40 minutes and tablet visitors are averaging 4:20 minutes per visit. This is half to twice as long as other websites that we track. Visitors have viewed People bios 7,424 times in this same five days. I should add that these traffic numbers do not include Chambliss’ internal or Content Pilot visitors.
You’ll see that the only imagery in the site is of “Jac.” The images are arresting and engaging.
Read what Chambliss means by “Fiercely Loyal.” And enjoy the site!
A special thanks to the Content Pilot leads on this project: Leslie Potter and Jerry Pate, and other key team members, such as Ryan Davis.