iPhone owners love to download apps, so it is understandable that many companies have produced iPhone apps for the purpose of marketing the company. Even law firms have gotten into the act, and I discussed some early efforts this past January.
Morrison & Foerster, a megafirm that has been around since the 1800s and has over 1,000 lawyers, recently unveiled new marketing initiatives. First, the law firm — which calls itself MoFo — unveiled a new website. The design sparked a lot of controversy, but I like it; it's unique and fun. My only critique is that the font is Arial, and if a law firm wants to be seen as a leader, it should select the font Helvetica instead of Arial in light of the Arial's reputation of being a cheap imitation of Helvetica. (Having said that, I acknowledge that few people know the difference.) The firm also unveiled an iPhone app called MoFo2Go (which uses Helvetica, not Arial, giving the app that extra touch of class over the website). I'm still undecided on whether an iPhone app makes sense as a law firm marketing opportunity, but if you are going to do one, you need to check out the MoFo2Go app because this is an example of how to do it right.
First, the app is functional. What would a client want in a law firm app? Bios on attorneys and easy links to call or e-mail them, firm addresses, and perhaps firm news. This app has all of this, and every screen is nicely formatted for the iPhone. The attorney bio pages are organized either by attorney, by practice area, by office or by law school. You can also do a search to find a person, although the app only searches for names and does not do a full text search of each attorney's bio.
The Locations portion of the app is particularly well done. Locations brings up a nice Google Map displaying not only a black pin for the office location, but also red pins for travel locations (airports, parking), green pins for recommended nearby restaurants, and blue pins for recommended nearby hotels. This makes it very easy for a client to find places near the law firm.
I don't know how often people would want to use an iPhone app to read news releases from a law firm, but the app also includes a news page brings up standard law firm news releases, including tech-related articles with pictures that are nicely formatted for the iPhone. A user can also create notes related to an article, another feature that I suspect will get rare use, but its inclusion doesn't take anything away from the app so why not include it.
In addition to the function, the app has some fun. First, the app includes a maze game, giving the user a reason to start up the app even if he is not looking to get MoFo information. Second, the app itself, like the website, is nicely laid out and has a vibrant, fun feel.
One problem with the app is that every time you launch it, you need to wait for the app to download new information — presumably updated bios, new news, etc. I understand why this is necessary to ensure that the app is always current, but it is a drag to have to wait.
Overall, while I remain on the fence about whether a law firm should have an iPhone app, MoFo has shown one way to do it well. Some other bloggers have been less kind about this app, but I like it, and if I were a client of MoFo I could see myself both using the app and having positive thoughts about the firm because of the app. I give the firm credit for doing something unique and doing it well, although some of the credit also goes to Rubenstein Technology Group, the developer of the app.