Tips for Displaying Your Criminal Case Results Online

Criminal Defense Case Results

Should I include my past case results on my website? Yes, but only if you take the time to do it properly.

When done correctly, including your criminal case results online can result in a spike in the quality of cases you are contacted for. This can also result in higher revenues. But those benefits only come when you gather and list the case results correctly.

If you cannot do it right, then don’t do it at all. The design of the website shouldn’t put an emphasis on your case results if you are not able to update the case results each month.

When done correctly, a good description of your past case results is extremely effective. It helps your potential clients understand the types of cases you take, the way you represent clients in those cases, and results obtained in past cases. The most well-established attorneys benefit the most from adding case results since those attorneys tend to have more case results and better outcomes in those cases.

Since each practice areas is different, this article is geared primarily for criminal and DUI defense attorneys. But attorneys in most practice areas can benefit by adding case results to their website.


What Analytics Show About Case Results

When looking at the analytical data for our client’s websites over the years, we have noticed several benefits that come with adding a frequently updated case results page to the website.

  1. Viewers often search for terms related to “case results” or “past result.”
  2. The viewer might find the case result page on the website after initially landing on another page of the website, especially if the design of the website puts an emphasis on the case results page.
  3. When the viewer lands on the case results page, the viewer often spend more time on that page than any other pages on the website.
  4. After spending time on the “case results” page, the viewer often goes next to the attorney’s biography page or the “contact us” page.

Your potential clients know that your case results matter. In fact, some potential clients will actually search for case results before setting the initial consultation. Sometimes potential clients even compare the case results listed on your website with the case results listed on your competitor’s website.


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Making an Impression with Case Results

You want to make sure your case results leave an impression on prospective clients. Visitors to your site may not take the time to read through every piece of content so it is important that you get your message across even if someone is just skimming. When a potential lead goes to look at your case results they are looking for a couple specific elements:

  • What was the charge?
  • What was the result?
  • How long ago was it?
  • Where was it?
  • How was the case disposed? i.e. plea, trial verdict, or dismissal
  • What happened?

Spoilers First

The first two elements, the charge and the outcome, are the most important and should be displayed most prominently. If a potential client is scrolling through your site quickly and they see in big bold letters “ACQUITTAL” one right after another, it’s going to leave an impression of success and competency without the viewer needing to read through every case result entry. Likewise, if a lead has found your site because they are facing a specific charge, you want to show that person that you’ve had success defending that exact thing right away.

For example, a potential lead that is charged with DUI is going to be more responsive seeing page after page of case results that just say “DUI – DISMISSED” than say reading long detailed paragraphs of case facts and procedural maneuverings.

Time and Location

You want to have as many recent results as you can. If a potential lead sees that a firm has multiple acquittals within the past couple months, it’s going to make them feel more at ease than if they come across a firm where the most recent acquittal was a couple of years ago. Even though the latter firm may have had recent successes, they may be prejudiced against competitors by not having those successes on their website.

Where the case was disposed, the county or the court, is a display of relevancy to the site visitor. Leads are more likely to reach out to an attorney that has had success in the location they have been charged. Even better, if a potential client is searching for a specific court and your case results page lists multiple successes in that court, you’re going to increase the likelihood you get a call from that lead.

The Details

Giving a brief description of the case is always important. Sure, a potential client may not read every single case result entry but they will gravitate towards results that are relevant or similar to their situation. You don’t necessarily want to put every single detail in the description. Try to be brief, concise, and sound sympathetic to the former client you are writing about.

It often helps to put the name of the judge or even an arresting officer just in case a lead recognizes a name involved in their case. Including case numbers can also add more legitimacy to the case result but is not necessary and may be undesirable if it could potentially lead to your former client being identified.

It is also helpful if you denote what stage of the case the result was achieved in. For example, was the result achieved after a jury trial or bench trial? Was the case dismissed during pre-trial or during the trial phase? Mixing different dispositions shows a well rounded competency. If all you have is pretrial dismissals on motion and no trial wins on your case result page, it may look to the prospective client that you do not have trial experience.

Finally, use the description as an opportunity to mention what you did for the former client and what result you achieved.


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Examples of Good Cases Results Pages

Below is an example of what format and style we think works really well for case results based on the discussion above.

NOT GUILTY

Driving While Intoxicated

Date: October 2017
Court: Harris County District Court
Details:

Client was stopped for allegedly driving through a steady red light and then stopping in the roadway on Crawford street outside Minute Maid Park after attending an Astros game. The arresting officer with the Houston Police Department, alleged that our client had a strong odor of alcohol emitting from his breath, bloodshot watery eyes, and slurred speech. The arresting officer conducted a roadside investigation and arrested the client for Driving While Intoxicated. The client allegedly refused to submit to breath testing. Jury selection took place on October 22, 2017. After an all day trial on October 24, 2017, the jury deliberated for 48 minutes before returning a NOT GUILTY verdict. Our client elected not to testify at the trial.

Of course your site does not have to do it identically to the example above to get good results. Here are some other examples of sites that have a solid case results section to their websites:


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Steps to Adding Past Case Results

After talking with clients about what works and doesn’t work when adding case results, we have the following suggestions.

Get Client Permission First

First, always get your clients express written permission to use the case result. Create a special form for this purpose. When you have your final meeting with the client to discuss the result, ask them if you can publish their case result on your website. Have the client sign a release form that acknowledges the fact that they gave you permission to publish the information on your website. Some attorneys even request permission to use the case results in the initial retainer agreement as well.

You might say, “I’m glad we got such a good outcome in your case. Now that the case is over, I wanted to ask for your permission to add your case result to my website. It would not list your name, but it would list the first three digits of your case number and the date that the case was resolved. It would explain the result with a brief description of how we got that result. Many people look at case results before deciding to hire the attorney. Maybe you looked at my case results before you called me? I would need your express permission to add that information to my website. Would you be willing to sign this form to give me permission?”

At this point, the client will often agree that case results are important and that they used them before making a decision to hire you. Although most clients will be happy to let you use their case results on your website, a few will decide not to give you this permission.

Check Bar Rules

If you are considering adding case results to your website, make sure you read all of the bar rules in your state that apply. Other employees in your office who are involved in publishing the case results need to also read these bar rules carefully.

In Florida, for example, the rules for posting past case results on the website can be found in Rule 4-7.13(b)(2). The rules provide that information regarding past results must be factually verifiable and cannot omit facts that would make the results misleading under Rules 4-7.13(b)(2) and 4-7.14.

For this reason, when publishing the past case results, the attorney must make sure:

  • each case result is objectively verifiable;
  • material information is not omitted;
  • even when the case result is literally accurate, it does not reasonably mislead a prospective client regarding a material fact.

Stay Committed

Make sure you are ready for the commitment involved. Getting your case results right takes time, especially when it comes to updating that information frequently. The attorney is often too busy to keep up with the case results. For this reason, they must often rely on other employees in the firm to help them gather and list the information.

Be Accurate

Put specific policies and procedures in place to make sure the information is gathered correctly and that you have the client’s express permission to post the information online each time.

These procedures need to ensure that enough information is provided so that the results can be verified, but at the same time, the information listed should protect your client’s identity as much as possible.

Disclaimers

Add the appropriate disclaimer. For example, in Florida, Rule 4-7.13(b)(8) requires a disclosure that a prospective client may not obtain the same or similar results when specific results are advertised.

Other things that can be included in the disclaimer include:

  • The facts and circumstances of your case may be different from the facts and circumstances listed below.
  • Not all case results are listed here.
  • The case results discussed here are not necessarily representative of the results obtained in all cases.
  • Each case is different and must be evaluated and handled on its own merit.
  • You may not obtain the same or similar results as those listed below.

Look at the bar rules in your state to decide what statements should be listed in the disclaimer.

The Sooner the Better

Write up the case result as soon as the case is resolved so that the information is fresh in your mind.

If you are considering adding case results to your website, then contact Internet Lava, LLC, to discuss your goals. We provide a free consultation to discuss your current internet marketing strategy and the best ways to achieve your goals for growing your law firm in the future.


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