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The Right Law Firm Marketing Budget

We get a lot of calls each week from lawyers that are upset with their current legal marketing company. These calls generally go something like this.

“I can’t take this company that I’m working with any longer. I had them build my website about one year ago and I’ve been paying them month after month to do search engine work and nothing is happening.” The lawyer goes on to explain how they have spent a fortune on the website but really doesn't know what exactly they are paying for.

Unfortunately, many attorneys get conned into believing that having a website and a couple of listings in a lawyer directory is going to fill up their office with a mountain of new cases. Thus, money should not be a concern.

As you know, money is always a concern. The reason many law firms overspend on online marketing is because the attorney doesn’t work out their budget before pursuing a search engine optimization campaign. Do not make the same mistake. Here are some ways to decide from the beginning how much you can afford to spend on your website and online marketing.

1) How much is your average case worth? I know, this is tough because cases have so many variables and elements that can come into play. So come up with an average of 5 cases.

2) Go to and click on “Get keyword ideas”. You may want to bookmark this page.

3) In the keyword box that will appear, type in your city then practice area.

4) For this example we will use Chicago and divorce lawyer thus getting the keyphrase, Chicago divorce lawyer.

5) After you type that in, press “get keyword ideas”.

6) The first column titled “Approx Avg Search Volume” shows you the average number of monthly searches in Google for the keyphrase.

7) In this case, there are approximately 4,400 monthly searches.

A monthly local search volume of 4,400 searches for Chicago divorce lawyer means that every day around 146 searches take place in Google.

If the website is designed professionally with proper conversion elements in place and a strong search engine ranking, our fictional divorce firm should easily attract an inquiry/lead each day from their website. This is a very conservative estimate for a large metro area like Chicago.

If the average case is worth $5,000.00 (considering the simple non-contested divorces and the multi-child, business ownership, houses, cars, and large assets that can make for more complex divorces) then you can realistically get a 1 in 5 conversion, which equals 4 cases each month. This is an average of $12,000.00 in gross earnings.

Of course, some cases will be worth less, some will be worth a lot more. Based on the above statistics (and your overhead) a healthy monthly marketing budget could be around $1,200.00, or 10% of the expected increase in earnings. Some practice areas and regions will require a different formula but the 10% rule is a good starting point. High volume practice areas will require a larger percentage as there is more work involved in bringing in the larger volume of cases.

Our phone call at the beginning was from a traffic attorney. Occasionally he got some substantial intoxication cases but the majority of his clients were $200.00 traffic violation cases. Keeping in mind he's in a volume based practice area, he would have to spend closer to 15-20% of his expected increase in revenue.

Taking the time to work out a realistic outcome and budget will help your online marketing plan succeed without breaking the bank.

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