According to the 2013 ABA Tech Survey, over half of all attorneys use iPhones, and over 90% use a smartphone. When the 2014 numbers come out in a few months, I suspect that we will see even more lawyers using smartphones. And of course, our clients are increasingly using iPhones and other smartphones too. Virtually every law firm has a website (and those that don't, should). Considering that the primary visitors are clients (current and potential) and other lawyers, and that so many of them use mobile devices, I think it makes good sense for a law firm to have a mobile version of its website, one that is optimized for the smaller screen of a smartphone.
For the past three years, the Law Firm Mobile website has conducted a study to look at mobile efforts by large law firms, including the number of AmLaw 200 firms with mobile websites. The 2013 results were released in three parts (1, 2, 3) and the last part came out yesterday. The results surprised me.
The first part of the report reveals that the number of AmLaw 200 law firms with mobile-optimized websites increases every year, but it is still less than half. As of the end of 2013, only 85 of the AmLaw 200 law firms had mobile sites.
Source: Law Firm Mobile Report for 2013
The report also reveals that if you look at the 2013 Global 100 list, only 39 (39%) have mobile sites.
The upward trend for AmLaw 200 firms — 54 in 2012 and 37 in 2011 — is no surprise. However, by now, I would have expected to see mobile websites from well more than 50% of the AmLaw 200 law firms. I joked when last year's report came out that my law firm, Adams and Reese, was #1 on the list, and we are still #1 this year — which sounds good until you realize that it is an alphabetical list. But with still less than 50% of AmLaw 200 firms having mobile websites, every law firm on the list should be proud to be a member of this surprisingly small group.
What do good law firm mobile websites look like? The second part of the survey explores that very issue, pointing out that some law firms aim for simplicity while others seek to do something creative for mobile devices. By way of example, here is what my law firm's mobile website looks like. It comes up automatically when a mobile device goes to our website (or you can manually go there by going to m.adamsandreese.com, but mobile websites feel wrong on the large screen of a computer).
The third part of the report reveals that 36 (18%) of the AmLaw 200 firms create apps. Virtually all of them are iPhone apps, but some law firms offer Android apps and very few offer BlackBerry apps. As a general rule, I have a mixed feeling on a law firm creating an app. A few are good, but many of them offer no real value over a website, require a lot of upkeep, and are unlikely to be downloaded by many people. I think that most law firms are better served just by creating mobile versions of their websites, although I am certainly intrigued to see the rare law firm apps that are compelling.
If your law firm doesn't currently offer a mobile version of its website, I encourage you to consider creating one. As this study reveals, doing so will help you to stand out in the crowd.