Marketing a Criminal Defense Law Firm

Law hammer

Whether you’re part of an established law firm or a single criminal defense attorney running your own practice from a small office, you probably already know that attracting new clients consistently is imperative to continue growing your business.

But traditional marketing and networking opportunities can only go so far. The web has become the biggest platform for people to search for and choose their attorneys, mostly due to the incredible convenience of being able to look up exactly what you need in a matter of seconds. 

Given the unprecedented opportunities to be found online for growing your criminal defense law firm, more and more criminal defense attorneys are flocking to the web and setting up high-quality criminal law websites to make the most out of this medium. 

As more doors open up to new competitors, criminal law firms and attorneys of all sizes have to reckon with the power of digital marketing, which has emerged as one of the most important and cost-effective components of modern marketing.

As easy as it may seem to post content online, digital marketing, much like traditional marketing, comes with a unique set of challenges. Add to that the complexities associated with criminal defense marketing specifically, and setting up your law firm for success may start to feel like an impossible feat.

But don’t worry, you won’t need to navigate it all on your own if you don’t want to!

Read on to find out about the importance of criminal defense marketing and how to successfully market your practice to get more clients in the age of digital marketing.

How Do I Become A Successful Criminal Defense Lawyer?

The best criminal defense lawyers have a broad understanding of the law, and they’re able to deal with incredibly multi-faceted cases at the drop of a hat.

While some lawyers are prepared to handle anything from domestic violence to driving under the influence (DUI), many successful and esteemed lawyers have built their reputation by becoming highly specialized in one field of criminal defense law. They have narrowed down their expertise to the areas of practice they are most passionate about. 

Diligence, critical thinking, and reasoning skills are all hallmarks of a good criminal defense lawyer. If you double down on honing these skills, you’ll soon be able to make a name for yourself in the industry and attract more clients in return.

Still, knowing how to be a great criminal defense lawyer is only one small part of what it takes to succeed in the digital age — the rest is up to great marketing.

In the golden age of content, digital marketing is a skill that any lawyer or law firm should have. Curated branding is not just an essential component of brand development anymore; it’s a key step in developing and growing any business, from a local restaurant to a renowned criminal defense law firm.

How Do Criminal Defense Lawyers Get Clients?

Word-of-mouth is one of the oldest and most reliable criminal defense marketing tools out there. A satisfied client won’t hesitate to recommend your services to friends, family, and colleagues seeking similar services. That’s why it’ll always pay off to do the best job possible with every new case you take on.

Of course, some, if not most, criminal defendants will shy away from disclosing any details relating to their case for obvious reasons, putting your practice at a disadvantage compared to law firms that don’t deal with such sensitive cases.

However, there are many other means to secure clients as a criminal defense attorney, such as asking for referrals from your colleagues or other criminal justice professionals. Taking on more high-profile cases that will attract the attention of the press and, of course, embracing the power of content marketing and social media can also be effective.

How To Get More Clients?

So, if you’re wondering how to get criminal defense clients more easily and without long slow periods in-between cases, here are three different ways to go about criminal defense marketing for your firm:

Offer a Referral Fee

Court Room

This is what’s called word of mouth marketing, one of the most effective marketing avenues available. It worked for businesses of all shapes and sizes and was arguably the very first form of social media.

Keep in mind that establishing a reputation good enough for your practice to rely on merit-based recommendations from your past clients comfortably takes years, if not decades. 

That said, a good way to increase the number of clients sent your way through referrals is to incentivize the referring colleague by offering a referral fee. This is a commission paid to the lawyer that directed the client to your practice.

For example, an inexperienced lawyer could pass on a client to you if they lack the capacity to take matters on themselves. Alternatively, a well-known lawyer could refer some of its clients to you if they are inundated with cases.

While building your professional network and offering a referral fee may help you receive more referrals in return, providing quality service through it all will always help you maintain good relationships with your colleagues and clients.

Take on High-profile Cases

It’s no secret that law firms benefit from their involvement in high-profile cases. A good criminal defense marketing team should help you translate the media interest surrounding your case into positive publicity for your practice.

That said, don’t mistake high-profile cases for those involving high-profile individuals. No matter what the tabloids might have you believe, political scandals and celebrity misdeeds aren’t the only cases that make the headlines. In fact, the more clout surrounding the defendant, the more likely they are to approach larger, more established firms.

If you’re still trying to make a name for yourself, then you could gain some traction by taking on cases in which your local community is invested. For example, defending the charges leveled against the manager of a popular bakery may be seemingly inconsequential. Still, it may ultimately draw a whole lot of attention to your services within the community.

Market Your Practice Online

Law is one of the most traditional — and most regulated — professions out there. As a result of this inherent sense of tradition, many firms are reluctant to adopt modern marketing practices.

However, developing a strong online presence for your practice is one of the best investments you can make to position yourself for success. Without a notable online presence, potential clients searching for your services online may turn to competitors with more prominent criminal law websites.

Just as you would invest in a well-designed office space and traditional marketing materials, a well-designed website and quality content will denote professionalism and trustworthiness from the very first online visit.

Does Digital Marketing For Criminal Defense Actually Work?

Digital marketing is just another way of approaching and interacting with potential customers. While it certainly shouldn’t replace traditional marketing, it should take up a significant part of any well-rounded criminal defense marketing strategy.

Between 2013 and 2017 alone, “near me” searches — online searches for highly localized results, for example, “criminal defense lawyers near me” — have increased by 900%. In addition to that, according to Google’s Keyword Planner, there are currently nearly 70,000 monthly searches that include the keywords  “criminal defense lawyer” — a fair share of which are probably within your jurisdiction!

With so many people walking around with GPS-enabled smartphones, your target customer will likely look up legal services online before contacting a practitioner. However, the best criminal defense lawyer websites will rank at the top of the results thanks to great SEO content, increasing their ability to generate leads.

So, there is arguably no better way for clients to find you than through the internet. For new firms, in particular, an online presence could very well mean the difference between success and failure. However, you should keep in mind that no website will do: you should get familiar with the basics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), keyword-led content marketing, and UX-friendly design to learn how to surpass your competitors and generate more traffic.

How Do You Market A Criminal Defense Practice?

It’s clear that when it comes to criminal defense marketing, there are a variety of different avenues you can explore depending on your specific goals. With more traditional forms of marketing out of the way, let’s see how you can leverage the power of digital marketing to grow your business and market yourself as the go-to authority in the criminal defense field. 

Create an Optimized Website 

When developing a sound digital marketing strategy as a criminal defense attorney or law firm, the key goal is to create an online persona that can seamlessly reflect your in-person image and what you have on offer in a matter of minutes.

To achieve this image, developing a well-constructed, appealing website is going to be your first step in boosting client acquisitions — it’s your digital business card, after all.

While we understand that budgeting is often essential for smaller firms and single attorneys, you should always avoid investing in a poorly designed yet more wallet-friendly website. A sleek and well-designed website can easily position you as an expert in your field by conveying a clean, professional image on the spot.

Create High-Ranking SEO Content 

When it comes to improving SEO for a criminal defense law practice, creating high-quality, authoritative, and engaging content will attract your ideal audience by including all the best keywords for your niche. In simple terms, the better your SEO, the higher your ranking will be.

So, what kind of keyword-optimized content should you be putting out to attract your target audience and to start improving your ranking on Google and other search engines?

We recommend using a mix of core content (primary web pages based around your primary target keywords, such as “criminal defense law attorney” or “criminal defense law firm”) and smaller blogs centered around secondary keywords and FAQs. Keywords aside, your goal should always be to keep your audience engaged, answer their questions, and provide highly authoritative and educational content.

But there’s more to content marketing than just writing landing pages and blog posts.

You can try conducting webinars, recording podcasts, utilizing guest posting, posting and commenting on related forums, encouraging link-building, sending out monthly newsletters to your network. Publishing blog posts is also an excellent way to increase brand recognition for your firm. In short, producing regular, shareable content that helps your potential clients solve a problem or answer a question, they may have will help your firm establish credibility, demonstrate its expertise, and generate quality leads.

How Do You Advertise Criminal Law?

In terms of advertising your work more directly, listing your firm or practice on an online directory will help get your name out there and increase the traffic to your site. Depending on your budget, you could opt for a paid listing to draw more attention to your firm and truly get an edge over your competition.

In terms of more traditional advertising methods, law firms use one of the most popular ways for criminal defense marketing to give out free branded merchandise. Think branded pens, notebooks, and t-shirts designed to boost your brand awareness. You and your team can start distributing to your network at any and every event you attend.

But while both these options still have their place in the digital world, there’s nothing quite as effective to start building a solid online reputation than to use the power of social media and Google.

Nowadays, most law firms focus their attention on running Google Ads and creating engaging social media marketing campaigns that involve advertising their services on the most popular platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Both these methods guarantee incredible reach, and you can choose to either run paid campaigns or grow your presence organically by posting regularly, producing video content, and commenting on other users’ posts.

How Do You Brand A Criminal Defense Law Firm?

The public tends to regard criminal lawyers with disdain, so successful criminal defense marketing calls for a certain level of tact. Whenever you’re crafting copy or creating a Facebook post, you should make sure to emphasize the role that criminal defense lawyers play in ensuring that the due process rights of the accused are upheld. 

In terms of brand colors, while blue may be the color of choice for corporate firms, criminal defense law firms should opt for bolder colors that evoke a sense of confidence and strength. Highlighting the firm’s core values within the slogan and other marketing materials will also help your potential clients feel like they are in good hands.


As a general rule of thumb, it’s always best to distill your core values and the factors that set you apart from the competition in the very first heading, paragraph, or the under-logo slogan of your website. On top of that, you should always ensure that your marketing materials, both online and offline, are consistent in terms of typography, core message, and design.

As you can probably tell by now, curating an online image is really not a walk in the park, so if you don’t have much time or the brainpower to dedicate to your marketing, it might be best to reach out to the experts!

Marketing Strategies For Criminal Defense Attorneys

Criminal defense marketing strategies for attorneys should focus on showcasing their expertise before all else. All marketing platforms, ranging from the attorney’s website to their social media posts, should either refer to or demonstrate expertise to attract leads organically.

In the same breath, publicizing relevant academic achievements, awards, and participation in high-profile cases demonstrates competence. Media outreach initiatives, which may involve offering an expert opinion for a news story or providing analyses of legal developments, will help make your name more recognizable.

Establishing a clear brand identity will also help criminal defense attorneys differentiate themselves from other practitioners. For example, establishing a tough, “no-nonsense” persona or a calm, comforting one will help potential clients make the best choice for their personal preferences or circumstances.

If the sheer amount of information to learn and the time needed to see these changes through is already giving you a headache, know that you won’t have to deal with all of this on your own if you don’t want to.

We are a specialized Law Firm Marketing agency working with defense law firms and attorneys like you, helping forward-thinking firms reach their audience through the power of digital marketing and designing law firm websites from as far back as 1990.

With a proven track record of helping law firms and sole practices succeed in their goals, JustLegal Marketing is your go-to destination for criminal defense law marketing that works, whether you’re looking for better web design, results-driven content marketing, or SEO and social media services.

So, if you’re ready to embrace all the benefits that come with unrivaled media exposure, all you have to do is get in touch today!

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