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Our Digital Lives: One Day at AAJ

There was the fire down the street.

There was the terrorist attack halfway around the world.

And the news was in your pocket faster than it could be broadcast by the news media... but only if you were plugged into the latest technology. 

Allow me to share the moments when our collective "digital lives" collided with AAJ 2016 and what the modern world of communication means for lawyers.

Setting the Stage

The American Association for Justice 2016 Annual Convention in Los Angeles attracted trial lawyers from around the world. Lively discussions centered around the latest developments in trial advocacy.

Networking was a highlight for many and social channels for the convention were abuzz. This tweet by attorney Roland Belsome exemplifies the exciting networking moments that took place:

A Whole New World

In the midst of the positive AAJ environment, several external events took place that caused many to pause and turn to cell phones or tablets for information.

That's when it hit me: sometimes we forget that we are living in a whole new world.

We all recognize that the world is a different place than it was 5, 10, or 15 years ago. Websites are ubiquitous, mobile phones are much more than phones, and internet access is no longer a luxury. In fact, a federal court recently ruled that high-speed internet is a basic utility

It's safe to say that trial lawyers have adopted this new digital lifestyle. Many AAJ attendees gazed into iPhones, swiped tablet screens, and clicked away on laptop keys. One of the questions I heard most frequently at the convention? "What is the wi-fi password?" 

However, the subtle (yet powerful) changes in human behavior inspired by our always-on, hyper-connected world can easily be taken for granted. Case in point: two external events occurred during the convention; one local, one global. Traditional news sources were slower and possibly less effective than social media in terms of meeting the public need for highly specialized news.

Where's the Fire?

During the AAJ convention a fire broke out in a pallet yard 2 miles from the Los Angeles Convention Center. Black smoke billowed from an unknown location close to the event, causing many to turn to handheld devices for answers.

Who was on top of this breaking news? Not the Los Angeles Times... the people. Videos, pictures, eye-witness details, all flooded the Twitter feed for #DTLA (Downtown Los Angeles).

Seeing the World Through Other Eyes

Unfortunately, AAJ attendees learned of the horrific Munich shooting rampage while at the convention. Televisions at the hotel displayed a steady stream of images from the scene, many of which had been captured on mobile phones by people running to escape the carnage.

In just a matter of moments, a group of trial lawyers in Los Angeles was able to experience the aftermath of this horrific tragedy in almost real-time through the eyes of people in a different country. In fact, Munich authorities took to social media almost immediately to ask for eye-witness video and pictures to assist with the investigation. 

Modern Digital Life and the Law Practice

Let's explore three critical components of this modern digital life as it applies to your law practice:

  1. Visual Aids are Necessary
  2. Social Media Provides Leverage
  3. Your Website is Your Home Base

Why are these three components important? Two statistics from a recent Business 2 Community report will drive this home:

Ok, so people are on social media. Who cares about those Millenials and their selfies?

Surprised? Considering the degree to which digital life has impacted human behavior, it may be time to reassess your position in this new world. 

Visual Aids are Necessary

Not only does a picture tell a thousand words, it also has the ability to lend credibility to a post or statement. But a larger point to consider is that people are inundated with information and have been trained to scan for images and video that help them quickly determine whether a piece of content is worth time or not.

The CMO Council recently reported that content with relevant images generate 94% more views than content without relevant images. Not surprisingly, benefit derived from a picture is multiplied when video is used. People devour videos in this new digital world.

"Between April 2015 and November 2015, the amount of daily video views on Facebook doubled from 4 billion views per day to 8 billion." CMO Council

Tap into the insatiable appetite for video by answering common client questions in educational videos posted on your website. This video by Younker, Hyde, MacFarlane describes the litigation process in less than two minutes. Just click the image below to view the entire video now:

Social Media Leverage

Social media as promotional vehicle is obvious, but often misused. Law firm marketing messages have a place on social, but not to the degree many may wish. People turn to social media for information. Put yourself in your client or prospect's shoes. What are they searching for on social media? (Hint: it is not your advertisement) 

Now, take a step back from social media as a promotional tool and put on your investigator hat. Thanks to massive adoption of this new digital world, there is more evidence and data at your disposal than ever before.

AAJ exhibitor TrialDrone is leveraging massive social media adoption with development of its social media mining system to help lawyers gather data on jurors, locate key witnesses, identify potential class members, and more. This is yet another indication that we are living in new world of digital human behavior. 

Bringing it Home: Your Website is Your Home Base

The digital world is a vast and cluttered space. You MUST carve out your territory on the WWW and take steps to ensure a solid user experience on your website in order to compete.

Think of your website as home base.

You want to get as many relevant prospects to your home base as possible. Your prospects are cruising the internet; hopping from social media networks to news sites, to retail sites. If they get to your home base, you want them to complete specific actions such as submitting a contact request form. Once the qualified prospect completes your contact form, your website has hit a home run.

However, modern digital life has significantly complicated the ability to convert website visitors, especially for those with older websites.

How Does Your Website Perform?

In addition to the fundamental "can prospects find you online" question, ask yourself whether prospects have a seamless experience with your website on various devices.

How does your website perform on a small screen, large screen, and every screen in between? Does your site communicate quality and professionalism on devices of all sizes and types?

Don't forget that we are all hardwired to abandon websites with slow load times, frustrating user experience, or irrelevant information in the blink of an eye.

Now for an example. Cardon Law's website was built for mobile first, then designed to adapt to all screen size scenarios.

Did you notice the menu adjustments as the screen shrinks in the example above? The video background also transitions to a static image for optimal experience on a mobile phone. These are just two examples of the subtle differences needed to maximize user experience based on the visitor's device.

Check out this themes gallery to explore other mobile-first website designs.

Take a moment to run a simple usability test on your website:

  • Open your website on a desktop computer and then drag the edges of the window into different positions.
  • Do you notice any overlapping images or odd spaces between text?
  • Do portions of the page get cut off when you resize the window?

Now test your website on a mobile phone:

  • Are navigation buttons easy to use or will someone with a fat finger have issues?
  • Are text and images large enough to read easily on your mobile phone?
  • How easy is it to fill out your contact form?

What Next?

To recap, these three components of modern digital life have a significant impact on the success of your marketing efforts, online and off:

  1. Visual Aids are Necessary: Video Converts
  2. Social Media Provides Leverage: Reach More Potential Clients
  3. Your Website is Your Home Base: Science Drives Websites

The takeaway message from AAJ is that lawyers must recognize and respond to the changes in consumer behavior triggered by the universal desire to locate quality content and information on the vast world wide web.

Concerned about your practice's web presence? We are happy to help assess your current situation and answer any questions you have. Feel free to call us at (800) 650-0003 or write us.