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Digital maturity report uncovers lacking performance for top 100 global law firms

By Craig Johnson | Chief executive officer



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October 18, 2022 | 6 min read

Craig Johnson, chief exec at Ultimedia, breaks down the agency’s recent flagship Digital Maturity Report, revealing a lack of maturity among top law firms’ digital offerings.

An old library with busts of Greek scholars

Are too many law firms still stuck in the past, lacking digital maturity? / Giammarco via Unsplash

We’ve recently published our Digital Maturity Report for the legal sector, revealing that the world’s leading law firms are lacking in digital maturity.

Although the report uncovered that there’s a considerable investment in top-tier website technology, big names such as Eversheds Sutherland, Hogan Lovells and Holland & Knight are failing to perform digitally in terms of website effectiveness.

The digital maturity report tests and analyzes the performance of the top 100 firms across 10 core digital marketing aspects, including audience level, website effectiveness, search marketing, email marketing, content marketing, personalization and social media.

The firms are benchmarked against digital best practices and each firm has been scored across the 10 aspects, giving an overall digital maturity score. The full report explores in depth the weaknesses and strengths across the sector and how each firm performed.

An appetite for digital transformation in the legal sector

80% of people take to search engines to look for legal firms or services. For a long time, digital has been disrupting many sectors, but law firms have kept a firm grip on their traditional approaches. The Covid-19 pandemic has turned this on its head, jolting law firms to review their digital transformation strategies to meet modern audiences’ expectations and needs. The report highlights the opportunities for savvy firms to leverage digital techniques to usurp competitors, reach new audiences and dominate the sector digitally.

Over 6 billion people worldwide own a smartphone and access websites via these devices, making mobile-first websites paramount for firms to reach their audiences. Users are impatient, with 47% of people expecting sites to load in under two seconds. Ultimedia’s findings reveal that 95% of the top 100 law firms fail basic load speed tests.

“Even the firms that scored highest in the study, such as DLA Piper and Baker McKenzie, have significant room for improvement. The legal sector falls well below other B2B sectors in terms of legal effectiveness,” explains Ultimedia chief executive officer Craig Johnson.

Core findings

The report uncovered a “clear relationship between the overall digital maturity of law firms and organic search marketing performance,” demonstrating that investment in SEO should be a priority for ambitious law firms.

SEO wasn’t the only aspect where leading firms are missing opportunities. Only 3% of the top 100 firms are exploiting the benefits of email marketing, missing out on ‘the most lucrative channel’ in digital marketing.

Keeping audiences engaged through newsletters is a great way for firms to get new client opportunities, yet 48% of the world’s leading law firms do not offer website visitors the chance to subscribe.

Firms are investing heavily in website platforms that offer user experience features such as personalization tools to boost engagement and conversions. Yet only Pinsent Masons, Simmons & Simmons and US law firm Jackson Lewis offer personalized experiences for visitors.

The inability of top legal firms to get to grips with digital marketing is staggering; the report has highlighted significant areas for improvement for each firm. Even the top-scoring firms for their overall digital maturity – DLA Piper and Baker McKenzie – failed to reach a score above 66%.

The report has already ignited lots of discussion within law firms and is pivotal in aiding digital innovation for the world’s leading firms. The full Digital Maturity Report for the Legal Sector can be accessed here.

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