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Get yourself a Website

Time to get a website?  SOHO lawyers use the web for marketing.  I don't even list in the yellow pages anymore, mainly to prevent  phone calls for services I don't provide, from clients I don't want.  Without staff to screen calls, I need targeted, efficient marketing. My web site tells potential clients exactly what I do and how I do it.  See my site at

Here's what you need to get a website.

Domain name.  Think of names that say something about you, your practice, or your message. They must be easy to remember. Consider naming your site after yourself, so everyone can find you.  

Your domain name will be permanently yours, so put some serious thought into your choice.

Contact your internet service provider and get registered.  The important thing is to get yourself a domain name before someone else gets yours.  They are going fast.

Don't ignore domain names with .org or .net extensions.  There are plenty of good ones left, and they are getting popular just because they are available. Without a doubt, though, the .com extension is far superior for a commercial site.

EmailHaving your own domain name gives you unlimited, permanent email addresses.  If you put anything in front of, the mail goes to me.  I can change ISPs at will, and still keep the same email address.

Website Types:  You'll find three general types of websites for lawyers.  Choose one, or combine elements.   

  • Brochure sites.  Electronic versions of the paper brochures which describe the firm, highlighting  practice areas and qualifications. May include a map, or directions to the office.  These sites are valuable, because they give prospective clients some insight into who you are and what you do. See Allen, Hansen and Maybrown for an example.
  • Information site.   Provides information for other lawyers, and for sophisticated clients. If you attract business from lawyers, build content lawyers can use. This can generate high quality business, particularly if your practice is specialized.  I enjoy websites which combine brochure and information site styles. My site is an example.
  • Special interest site.  Anyone can publish anything on the Web.  If you like frogs, Alfa roadsters, or home office law practice, you can put up a site for your own amusement.  reflects my wish to promote a favorite concept, and a way to answer all the questions I get from lawyers.
  • Combination siteAll of the above plus whatever seems like fun.  See SOHO lawyer Selinda Barkhuis' wonderful site at  If you go there, get comfortable and expect to spend some time.  

Any site can use affiliate partners to help cover the costs.  When a visitor goes to one of the commercial sites here from a link on this site, I get a small commission from the sale.  Go ahead and try it out; click the Amazon button and buy a book!

Web Host.  The web host keeps your site on a server, so it can be accessed.  Cost varies from about $20 to $40 per month, depending on the amount of space you rent and the extra services offered.  I use Mousebytes, the brainchild of a Peninsula College computer science teacher.  She provides excellent advice and personal service.  You can also use Network Solutions, or some other national service. 

Don't be mislead by ultra low cost or free plans.  You don't want your site to disappear, or to learn that extra cost items are necessary.

Your ISP will host a small website for free, but only under its own domain name. Although you save twenty bucks a month, you will end up with something completely useless for a domain name.  Your site will be called\users\~badlawyers\joedoaks5692.html .  Why bother? Nobody can find or remember it anyway.

Web Design and Creation.  Decide whether to create the site yourself, or hire someone.  I've tried both methods, and prefer to do it myself, with a little help from my friends.  You get what you want, and you can change or add to it at will. 

Modern website creation programs, like FrontPage 2000, enable anyone to come up with a site.  Once you get comfortable with the program, you'll probably stay up all night.  It's addictive and fun.

If you don't feel comfortable jumping into website design and creation without help, try a compromise. Get a web designer to make a simple, FrontPage compatible site.  Arrange some hourly consulting time, then use FrontPage to make updates and changes. Consider taking a class at a local community college, and before long you can create almost anything you can visualize.  If you leave it all up to the professionals, you will never get what you want.  It is just not possible to communicate a creative project to someone else.

I hired help with graphics and design for this site, a fascinating character named Brad Messer.  He is a noted talk show host in Texas. See his work at

Another reason to get actively involved in your website is that you will want to change and update it. Most lawyers who hire experts to build their sites never look at them again.  The sites take up space on the internet, ignored, lonely, and out of date.

If you build your own site, you can make changes at will.  You can add anything you want, whenever you feel like it, at no cost. Who knows what brainstorms may end up on your site?

FrontPage 2000.  Using Microsoft FrontPage , website design is not rocket science. In fact, you can use one of FrontPage's templates to create a basic site by just filling in the blanks.  If you have used Publisher or PowerPoint, the look and feel of FrontPage will be very familiar.  If not, it's easy to learn, and great fun.  Once you get to the point where you want to do more, you can learn more.  I took a useful class in HTML at the local community college.

FrontPage is available for about $100 nearly anywhere.  Try You can design and create a website without knowing a stroke of HTML by using FrontPage's templates. FrontPage has an easy way to save files and changes to your server, so no FTP software is necessary. Adding graphics and photos is a snap, using either a scanner or digital camera.  You don't even need a high resolution imager -- a $90 flatbed scanner will do just fine. See scanners.

Instruction.  Website design help is all over the Web, with free graphics, creative ideas and helpful hints everywhere. 

Computer books are very expensive, so Amazon's deals are worth a look.  Microsoft also has some good instructional material on line; check our Books page.

Website work is  great fun.  As you can see from the above, any moron with a modem can now publish anything with impunity. Please send ideas to improve this site to Gary Williams at .


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