Image: Getty Art
The First Annual Big Law Webbies are finally here! Thanks to all of you who submitted nominations and voted for the best and worst in Big Law websites. We received nominations from at least 11 states and the District of Columbia, and for firms large and small. The winners of these awards will not receive TV time, plaques or golden statues shaped like the scales of justice. Nope. They will just get the knowledge that their websites have been noticed.
Gosh, I am tearing up just thinking about it.
But those of you who nominated those websites have not been forgotten. I'm only sorry we couldn't highlight all your ideas. A lucky few -- three, in fact -- will get $20 Starbucks gift cards. And yes, we've protected your anonymity.
Let's get on with it, shall we?
MOST OBSCURE BLOG TOPIC
Thanks to the Washington reader who took the time to tell me about the importance of the furniture industry to North Carolina and the legal implications thereof that justify the existence of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice's furniture law blog -- womblefurniturelaw.blogspot.com.
Despite its brilliance and significance, no other blog topped this one for obscurity.
Also, please note Ford & Harrison's "That's What She Said" blog, written by various attorneys at the firm, which takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the litigation value of various gaffes made by characters on the TV show "The Office." Check out employmentlawpost.com/thatswhatshesaid. (This is obscure -- in a good way.)
Maybe next year Posternak Blankstein & Lund (nominated by a reader in Massachusetts) will be in the running for this one if it starts a blog about its specialty in space law -- www.pbl.com/serviceareas.php?ServiceID=10&Space%20Law?
BEST TESTIMONIAL QUOTE
BEST HEAD SHOTS
Thanks to the firms who resist the mug shots. There were at least three of you in the running:
BEST FULL-BODY LAWYERS-OUT-OF-THE-OFFICE PHOTOS
But who needs a headshot when you can have full-body lawyer-action photos? Thanks to the Georgia reader (You win a Starbucks card! We'll be in touch!) who nominated The Van Winkle Law Firm for "Most Creative (aka Humiliating to some)" award for their awesome website www.vwlawfirm.com.
If you ever wondered, "What would my litigator look like wearing body-clinging bike shorts and a racing top with a helmet while perched on a 12-speed?" this is the site is for you!
This firm really goes far beyond a head shot. You get the full-length formal lawyer-y photo plus resume, and then you can click on "Meet [insert name here]" to see your boring lawyer magically transform into someone with a life. The personal bios tell you almost anything you want to know about these lawyers if, say, you were looking to date them on Match.com -- tidbits like their favorite book/movie/vacation spot/food, you name it. Best of all, this website offers photos of what these folks look like pursuing their varied interests on a Saturday morning.
A few highlights -- the guy holding a goat; the stately gentleman wielding a chainsaw; the sassy lady in her classic convertible; and the attorney named "Army" sporting camo and a rifle.
This site is addictive, and I loved it. I feel sorry for the attorneys who had nothing more interesting to depict than the expected golf/tennis shot, but hey, we can't all be charcutiers (yes, there is one on this site) in our spare time.
If you have not guessed by now, the Van Winkle Firm is not Big Law. Sure, with about 30 lawyers in Asheville, N.C., I am sure they are Big Time for their market. I am just saying no real Big Law firm would break the bank to create such an intimate portrait of its 567 lawyers. Nor would we advertise that we do anything other than bill hours in the office. But Asheville is one of those hippie places where people like to brag about having a "quality of life" and "outside interests," so I am sure this works well for them.
WORST HEAD SHOTS
Baker & McKenzie -- www.bakermckenzie.com. Hint: The shots are black and white. And really small. And a lot of the lawyers aren't even pictured.
CHEAPEST WEBSITE PRODUCTION COST PER PARTNER
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom -- www.skadden.com.
Skadden wins, but Ballard Spahr was a close second -- www.ballardspahr.com. In the words of the nominating reader from New Jersey: "[This] site looks like it was done when the Web first came to be ... ." The reader claims this site was actually very expensive, so it can't win in this specific category. I suppose we could modify the name for next year: "Cheapest-looking" Website Production Cost Per Partner?
MOST AMBIGUOUS TAGLINE
Hermes Sargent Bates' "Minds Over Matters" -- www.hsblaw.com.
Our nominator's comments: "What? Does it mean that their brains are more important than the cases they handle? Does it mean that they are going to put a bunch of attorneys on whatever matter you give them? The world may never know.
"What's great about their website is the numerous taglines that flash on the home page continuously. It's like they're saying, 'We're so good at these that we're going to show you just how many we could come up with. If you don't like "Minds Over Matters," what about "Our difference makes a difference," "We not only try harder, we try more often," or "Our dress code does not include stuffed shirts?" See! We are really awesome at this.'"
Thanks to our nominator on this one, who we may only refer to as Jason. Starbucks for you.
There were no other nominations for the other taglines, which win by default:
Least Creative Tagline: Dickinson Wright -- "Great Lawyers. Great law firm." (Great big yawn.)
Tagline Most Likely to Decrease Recruiting Efforts: Jackson Lewis -- "All We Do is Work."
Tagline that Sounds Most Like a Van Halen Song: Munsch Hardt -- "Right Firm. Right Now."
My personal favorite tagline: Harris Beach -- "Lawyers you'll swear by. Not at."
A big hooray to those readers who took the initiative to write in nominations for new categories. I'd like to thank a reader in California who nominated Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, www.quinnemanuel.com, for some of the quotes from their website. Among them: "Talent Mandatory, Suit Optional."
We'll give the folks at Quinn Emanuel a "Take it Literally" award. Here's why: As the nominator (Congratulations, by the way -- Starbucks for you!) noted, "When a senior partner described the firm to me, he said that attorneys wear whatever they want to work ... to his dismay, some take it too literally (bike shorts may be the point where you draw the line.)"
Note: Unlike at the Van Winkle firm, there are no photos of lawyers in bike shorts on this site. Or if there are, I didn't find them.
Other gems from Quinn Emanuel: "Justice may be blind, but she sees it our way over 90 percent of the time," and a description of the Barbie v. Bratz litigation: "Even with toys, we don't play around."
We also take sua sponte notice of www.sutherlandcareers.com. You must, must check this out. It's a man! It's a woman! It's a headless hermaphrodite!
MOST MOCKED BIG LAW WEBSITE
The outpouring of support for www.mofo.com for worst Big Law Website was tremendous. No other Big Law website came remotely close to topping the votes for this bad boy. No doubt Morrison & Foerster is getting the internet traffic numbers they had hoped to see.
A few reader comments about Morrison & Foerster's website:
"It's black and white taken to the extreme of total boredom." -- reader in New York
"Now that is the sort of copy that truly distinguishes Great Big Law Firms from Itsy-Bitsy firms." –reader in California, referring to website text including "Innovation is what drives our people," and "Although diverse, in certain respects, we think as one."
"I think they need one of their crack former law review editors to correct ambiguous speech," writes a reader in Illinois. The reader cites one of the pitches in the "This is MoFo" segment of the website, which says: "Many of the largest financial institutions in the world turn to MoFo for advice on ... money laundering ... ." Says the reader: "I think we know what they mean, but it could be read the other way."
"MoFo for Best Cutting Edge Design That Doesn't Cut It" -- reader in New York
But it wasn't all criticism: As a reader in Nebraska said of the MoFo moniker, "Any professional service that can maintain a domain like that deserves some props!"
We need to spread out the awards where we can, and this nomination for a small personal injury and criminal defense firm in Atlanta wins -- James H. Potts II at www.jhpii.com.
Take a look. I'll give it points for creativity -- we've got coffee-stained napkins, personal statements written on notepaper doodled with flowers and hearts (would I make this up?), bright and cheery Post-it notes emblazoned with "Everyday Wisdom," and Polaroid-esqe shots of the young, good-looking attorneys. I'd go hear this band! Oh, wait, it's a law firm.
But our nominator was a bit more critical: "Creepy photos -- check. Bonus points for baby pictures of the attorneys. Weird interactive site design -- check. The whole "Everyday Warrior" theme -- double check. Firm merchandise aka "gear" for sale -- check."
BEST LAW FIRM WEBSITE
Shall we end on a positive note?
Not every firm can pull off creative and whimsical, but a reader who requested anonymity pointed us to a small Denver firm that seems to have topped all the big boys with its creative site. Check out Moye White's photos of attorneys at play (2007 Who's the Grinch is a good one), the contemporary art gallery and the firm's hip, original cartoon art, featured throughout the site and at www.moyewhite.com/about/artgallery.aspx.
It seems lawyers in Denver and Asheville have more time to fish -- and design fun websites that can entertain for hours.
Congrats to all!
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