What makes a great legal website and which companies get the best engagement online?
THEAw business websites have a checkered history in India. For a long time, they were effectively, if not explicitly, prohibited by the rules of the Bar Council of India, which were drafted long before anyone even thought of the existence of the internet. As a result, all but the most daring law firms have refrained from having websites.
This changed in July 2008, when a Supreme Court ruling in VB Joshi v Union of India & Ors, paved the way for bar rules to be changed to accommodate the existence of websites. The bar council prescribed a list of admissible facts that law firms and lawyers can post about themselves online.
“Excellent news,” proclaimed a note from the Society of Indian Law Firms (SILF) at the time. “Your business can now have its website legitimately. “
This situation persists. “Websites are permitted, subject to the conditions set by the Bar Council of India,” said Lalit Bhasin, President of SILF. “Indian lawyers’ websites cannot legitimately be as comprehensive, informative and detailed as the websites of courts in developed countries, such as the US, UK, Europe, Australia, Japan, etc. “Bhasin adds, because” in India we still recognize the law as a profession, not as a business that should be publicized and publicized.
For this reason, Indian law firm websites require visitors to agree to a disclaimer acknowledging that the website is not a means of advertising or solicitation, and that they have come there voluntarily because they want to find information about the law firm.
Embrace the digital age
After receiving the green light in 2008, albeit with restrictions, law firms across the country took to building websites. Many were (and still are) rudimentary cases, providing little more than contact details and a list of lawyers. But some were more ambitious, with blogs and articles – and lately even videos – on every conceivable aspect of the law and doing business in India.
Then came the pandemic, and with face-to-face interactions virtually closed, online engagement tools have become essential. Lawyers have rushed to engage clients through websites, social media and other interactive technologies, including video meetings and webinars. The legal profession has entered the digital age, and lawyers, not always known to be the first to adopt new technologies, have had no choice but to embrace it.
In search of online engagement
So which law firms do the best job of maximizing engagement through their websites?
To find out, we turned to Alexa Internet (alexa.com), not the ubiquitous smart speaker, but another Amazon affiliate specializing in Internet traffic analysis.
Alexa estimates the “world rank” of websites. This is a measure of how well a website is performing compared to other websites in terms of global engagement or popularity. Alexa says rankings are determined “using a proprietary methodology that combines a site’s estimated average daily unique visitors and its estimated number of pageviews over the past three months.”
The smaller the number, the higher the level of global engagement. So, unsurprisingly, number one is Google, the most visited site in the world. Facebook comes in seventh and Flipkart, India’s top ranked website, is 78.
For law firm websites, where mass market appeal gives way to specialist interest, rankings drop. International law firm Linklaters, for example, is ranked 338,186, while Allen & Overy is ranked 416,162. The majority of Indian law firm websites rank between 500,000 and 1.5 million (figures correct as of 25 October 2021).
Manage the domain
Our researchers looked at the website rankings of over 200 major Indian law firms. Since Alexa rankings can change from day to day, they calculated the average ranking for each firm between April 19 and October 18, 2021. Here are the top 30 law firm websites, ranked by ranking order:
Top 30 Indian Law Firm Websites By Global Engagement
|Position||Law office||Website||Alexa Rank *|
|1||Nishith Desai Associates||nishithdesai.com||210,718|
|2||SS Rana & Co||ssrana.in||350,281|
|3||Khaitan & Cie||khaitanco.com||418 819|
|4||Lakshmikumaran and Sridharan||lakshmisri.com||423 595|
|5||Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas||cyrilshroff.com||454,590|
|6||Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co||amsshardul.com||527 930|
|7||Ahlawat & Associates||ahlawatassociates.com||535,270|
|8||Obhan & Associates||obhanandassociates.com||537,423|
|9||Law offices in India||indialawoffices.com||567,862|
|ten||Khurana & Khurana||khuranaandkhurana.com||573,792|
|11||Singhania & Partners||singhania.in||586,798|
|12||AZB & Partners||azbpartners.com||597,981|
|13||Ikigai Law||ikigailaw.com||730 725|
|16||TMT Law Firm||tmtlaw.co.in||773 147|
|17||Dhir & Dhir||dhirassociates.com||784,703|
|18||L&L Partners||luthra.com **||803,165|
|19||J Sagar Partners||jsalaw.com||812,217|
|23||K&S Partners||knspartners.com||937 211|
|24||DSK legal notices||dsklegal.com||938,010|
|25||Anand and Anand||anandandanand.com||960,771|
|28||Legal notice link||linklegal.in||990 956|
|29||RK Dewan & Co||rkdewan.com||993 888|
|30||Kochhar & Co||kochhar.com||994,231|
* Alexa’s average global engagement rank from April 19 to October 18, 2021.
** Recently modified from llpartners.com
Topping the chart is Nishith Desai Associates, with an impressive average Alexa Rank of 210,718. The company is known for its focus on search, so it’s no surprise that its website is chock-full of content.
Thousands of research articles on just about every area of law are available free to visitors, while partner site Nishith.tv offers videos of webinars and interactive panel discussions led by the firm. The website includes secure login areas for clients and staff, as well as a repository where clients can upload information relating to their legal affairs.
SS Rana & Co, which ranks second with an Alexa ranking of 350,281, also offers an extensive archive of newsletters and explanatory articles on matters relating to intellectual property, as well as company law.
In third place is Khaitan & Co, with a beautifully designed website offering a contemporary user experience. The site contains an extensive thought leadership section and a set of resources dedicated to managing the legal challenges associated with covid-19. It is one of the few Indian law firm websites to include a section on diversity and inclusion, as well as an alumni function to maintain contact with former lawyers and staff. Khaitan & Co’s website has an average Alexa Rank of 418,819.
Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan’s website – which ranks fourth with an Alexa ranking of 423,595 – is one of the very few Indian law firm websites that offers Chinese navigation. The site is attractively designed, with good use of fonts, colors, and other design elements, and includes professional-looking videos on contemporary legal issues.
Attractive design and professional-quality video content are also hallmarks of the Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas site, which stands out with its special section on legal innovation. It receives an Alexa ranking of 454,590, the fifth highest from an Indian law firm.
Next on the list is Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, with a rank of 527,930. This site exudes simplicity. The clean design is easy to navigate, but has all the features one would expect from a modern law firm website, including an extensive knowledge base of articles, reports, and research papers.
The top 10 is completed by Ahlawat & Associates, Obhan & Associates, India Law Offices and Khurana & Khurana.
Obhan & Associates’ website includes notable innovations, including Think Wings, a resource to support start-ups, and an expense calculator. Meanwhile, India Law Offices offers an online business matchmaking service, connecting companies with investors, distributors, joint venture partners, technology providers, subcontractors and much more, in 17 different countries.
Content is king
“I have seen a huge improvement in the online presence of Indian law firms in recent years,” says Leo Long, media manager at Vantage Asia, who publishes India Business Law Journal and Law.asia. “Just five years ago, most Indian law firm websites were difficult to navigate, unappealing, and had appalling photographs of lawyers, but nowadays more and more Indian law firms have websites that compare favorably with those of international firms. I think it shows a greater awareness of the importance of branding online.
According to Long, common characteristics of best practice law firm websites include: frequently updated content, which is crucial for search engine performance; sections on thought leadership, corporate social responsibility, diversity and inclusion, and volunteer work; a newsletter subscription function to maintain visitor engagement; and technologies to facilitate direct interaction with customers, such as chatbots or WhatsApp messaging.
Color combinations, fonts, and other design elements should be carefully considered, and websites should be optimized for use with mobile phones and tablets, as well as desktops. Social media links can amplify the reach of online resources, while the inclusion of videos gives websites a more contemporary feel.
Content is king when it comes to engaging an online audience. Successful law firms do so with content-rich websites equipped with innovative technologies that offer much more than rudimentary information about their services.