Web presence is crucial, even for rural attorneys. For most of us outside the metro, our bread and butter comes from person-to-person referrals. Someone in need of legal services ask people we either personally know or have worked with for suggestions on the right attorney. But just because most of your potential clients already know you exist, doesn’t mean you can ignore a web presence.

1. Clients don’t have your phone number memorized.

A big reason law offices maintain a web presence is branding. It can be easy for rural attorneys to dismiss the need to use the web in order to communicate who you are to prospective clients. After all, you run into your client base every day… at the grocery store, high school basketball game, etc. However, even if you are fully confident that potential clients in your area know about you, you have to be easy to get a hold of in order for them to hire you. While you might rely on the belief that potential clients can use the phone book, many people use search engines to look up information. This is especially true as more and more people use smart phones. At minimum, your contact information and areas of practice need to be able to be found online.

2. Other attorneys don’t have your phone number memorized.

You not only need to make sure potential clients can find you, but that other attorneys can find you. Obviously, opposing counsel wants to have your contact information at their fingertips, and that includes your email and fax number along with your telephone number. However, having your contact info available to other attorneys isn’t just helpful for the opposing side. It can be helpful for you. Everyone knows that attorneys refer potentials clients to other attorneys when they have a conflict or don’t practice in that area of law. If you come to mind, but your contact information is easily available, that potential client may be referred elsewhere.

3. Potential clients aren’t always from your area.

You might think that your client base is limited to your county. But, there are plenty of potential clients that don’t live in your area and don’t know you, but need a local attorney. Whether it’s an adult child living in another state that has to open a probate in their parent’s estate or a non-local small business being sued in local court, there are plenty of instances where a non-local client is looking for a local attorney. For many of these clients, the only resource they have to select an attorney is through the web. In order to be accessible to that client base, you need to accessible on the web and stand out from other attorneys in your area.

Start thinking beyond the yellow pages and start thinking about how to have a web presence.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/togawanderings/4084956243/)