Does Humor Ever Belong in Law Firm Content Marketing?
Sometimes when you write a blog post, you discover something you hadn’t expected to find.
The germ of the idea for this post came from an article I read about law firms that successfully used humor in their marketing materials. The firms were thrilled with the results: They were attracting new clients and new talent. The humor showcased the attorneys’ personalities, making them seem like people you would want to know.
Sounds great, right? But when I looked for the firms mentioned in the article, most of them no longer existed.
You can’t say that using humor is what drove them out of business. The marketplace for law firms has been treacherous the last few years. On the other hand, humor was not a magic bullet keeping them afloat.
Humor in attorney websites, it turned out, was rare. It does exist, though. I found some interesting examples which I will discuss later on. First, though, let’s look at some pros and cons of using humor in law firm content marketing.
Reasons to Use Humor
- Humor can make your law firm stand out. In a sea of stock photos and standard phrases, humor can make your website unique.
- Humor is memorable. You want people to remember your firm when they need a lawyer in the future.
- Humor may be shared. People love to share links to funny pages on social media. That’s free advertising for you.
Reasons to Avoid Humor (or at Least Be Careful How You Use It)
- The first reason to avoid humor is the same as the first reason to use it — humor makes your law firm stand out. That’s great if you stand out in a positive way, but it can be a disaster if you don’t.
- You can alienate potential clients. The last thing you want to do is offend someone with your website.
- Law is serious, and people seeking lawyers are often in crisis. There are good reasons why attorneys like to project a traditional, reassuring image.
Projecting a Relatable and Trustworthy Image
Two things a good law firm website should show is that your law firm is relatable and trustworthy. Humor cuts both ways here. It can help your firm seem more relatable, which is good. But if the humor seems overly frivolous, or it is done in bad taste, it can make your firm seem less trustworthy. The right balance is important.
Examples of Humorous Law Firm Content Marketing That Works
Humorous attorney websites can be hard to find. Several notable law firm websites, though, do use humor in an effective and appealing way.
Some common themes emerge. Gentle humor based on puns works well. It creates an upbeat tone and makes the firm stand out, without any risk of causing offense. A second strategy is to set aside a separate section on the firm’s site for humor.
The puns I’ve seen on law firm websites combine words and pictures in header images.
For a Canadian family law firm, the puns are visual. The site pairs the text “Asset division? We get awkward” with a picture of a stuffed duck on a desk, the caption “Divorce may cloud your judgment … not ours” with a picture of a person running with their head literally in a cloud, and “When change is not a realistic solution” is the caption for a picture of a fan blowing the spots off a Dalmatian.
A firm that has many practice areas takes a simple approach, with a single header saying “Getting your ducks in a row has never been so easy,” over a picture of, yes, ducks in a row.
The best example I’ve seen is an environmental law firm site that uses beautiful photographs of animals, a theme that is a perfect fit for the firm’s practice area. The text provides the gentle puns. A picture of an elephant knocking over furniture has the caption “Before the elephant enters the room,” a giraffe in a library is captioned with “Knowledge that reaches new heights,” and an underwater shot of a seal says, “We dive right in and immerse ourselves in your business.”
A Page of Humor
A Pennsylvania law firm takes a different approach. They set aside one page, which they call “Not for Attribution,” for humor about the firm. Items include funny memos and cute anecdotes about the lawyers. The page humanizes the firm, while allowing the rest of the site to project a more serious tone.
To Joke Or Not to Joke, That Is the Question
If you do choose to use humor on your attorney website, do so carefully. Sarcasm or anything potentially offensive may only land you on a “Worst Law Sites of the Year” list. The rewards of humor done right, though, could be substantial.
If you want your site to be unique, but don’t want to risk trying to be funny, there are other ways to distinguish yourself from the crowd. If you are working with a writer, help the writer help you by letting him or her know what makes your firm special.
Marjorie R has written articles online for more than 15 years and has also written humor for American Greetings and crossword puzzles for the New York Times. She wrote an entertainment blog that was consistently in the top 5 in the Google search results, and at its peak was #1 out of a total of 66,499,997 results. She has a B.A. in Psychology from UC Berkeley, an M.A. in Creative Writing/English from SF State, and a J.D. from UC Hastings.