Criminal Defense Attorney Marketing and Advertising Guide

Article by Kim Barloso Kim Barloso and Chintan Zalani Chintan Zalani

Last updated

With a competitive industry like law, every criminal defense attorney must learn how to stand out from its competitors and get new clients every day.

From learning how to create an attractive law firm website to establishing a presence in social media channels, criminal defense attorney marketing is essential for a law firm’s long-term success.

In this article, you’ll learn how to leverage criminal defense marketing to get more leads. But let’s start with the basics first.

What is Criminal Defense Advertising?

Criminal defense advertising is the practice of promoting your legal services to a target audience with the means of online or offline marketing methods. This law firm marketing strategy is done to ensure a steady stream of clients and cases for your practice. 

Advertising is usually paid, and some examples of this method include pay-per-click (PPC) ads like Google Ads, and paid social media ads in Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. There are also pay-per-leads advertising, where an advertiser pays for leads instead of clicks. Offline methods include newspaper, radio, billboard, and television ads.

Benefits of Marketing For a Criminal Defense Practice

There are many benefits in marketing your criminal defense law firm. Here are some of the top best reasons why you should invest in legal marketing:

Increase revenue

Being visible online (and offline) helps you acquire more cases and clients and therefore increases your law firm’s revenue.

Build brand awareness

Even if people don’t hire you right away, just coming across your business name can help with brand recognition and awareness. People who have seen your ads or law firm website might remember you when they are ready to hire a criminal defense lawyer in the future.

Establish authority

Marketing your criminal defense practice helps you demonstrate your experience and expertise to your audience. This helps build trust and connect with prospective clients who are considering your legal services.

Common Case Types Your Defense Law Firm Can Advertise For

Before creating a marketing plan, you need to identify which case types you want to advertise for your firm. Once you have case types listed, you’ll need to customize your marketing campaigns for each case type making sure the messaging is relevant to specific criminal charges.

Here are the most common case types that you can focus on providing your legal services for:

  • DUI (Driving under the influence)
  • DWI (Driving while intoxicated)
  • Drugs
  • Theft
  • Domestic violence
  • White-collar crimes (fraud, money laundering, embezzlement)

These case types can help you organize your ad campaigns. For instance, you’ll need to create different advertising copy/text for each case type to target the right audience and avoid misleading people in your ads. 

1. Define Your Criminal Defense Law Firm’s Brand and Its USP

With a competitive landscape like law, you need to stand out and clearly define your criminal defense practice’s brand. You need to identify your unique selling proposition (USP) and convey this message in your marketing campaigns. 

Your USP can be:

  • Your exceptional customer service
  • Years of experience in the field
  • Testimonials of satisfied clients
  • Flexible payment options
  • Free consultations
  • Number of criminal cases won

With a strong USP included in your marketing efforts, your firm can stand against other competitors in your practice area and target the right client base that is looking for a law firm with a specific brand (or USP).

2. Profile Your Ideal Customers (ICP)

Your law firm should have an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) incorporated into your digital marketing strategy. An ICP is a description of your ideal customer using the following aspects:

  • Firmographic (Company size, industry, location)
  • Behavioral (Website visits, content engagement, liked Facebook pages)
  • Psychographics (Values, Beliefs, Problems, Needs)

When you’ve created an ICP, it makes it easier to create marketing campaigns that resonate with people who are in need of your services. Having an ICP helps with conversions and improves your return on investment (ROI). 

3. Set a Marketing Budget

A marketing budget is a financial plan that details how much your firm will be spending for all marketing campaigns. Creating a budget will help you define which marketing methods you are going to focus on, whether it’s search engine optimization (SEO) or paid methods like pay-per-click (PPC) ads.

Depending on your marketing goals, you can start a budget allocation table to visualize which marketing channels you plan on implementing and how much you want to spend on each of them. Below is an example:

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When you have a clear financial plan on how much to spend on which campaign, you can focus on staying on budget while getting the best possible results, making sure you have great return on investment (ROI).

4. Optimize Your Criminal Law Website

To rank highly on search engine results pages (SERPs), you need an optimized website. This means your criminal law firm website should have relevant keywords that people use to search for your legal services online. 

Optimizing your law firm website might include the following steps:

Keyword research

Identify and incorporate keywords for your practice area using tools like Google Keyword Planner or Ahrefs. Ideally, keywords should have medium to high search volume and low competition. 

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On-Page SEO

On-page SEO is the practice of improving website content so it is more visible in organic search results. This SEO strategy is essential when publishing web pages for your site and involves optimizing your site’s headlines, meta descriptions, URLs, and image titles.

5. Kick Off Local SEO

Local SEO is the practice of optimizing your local content to improve your online presence for local search queries. This means you need to make sure you create a local listing for your law firm. 

Here are some ways to start applying Local SEO for your law firm:

Create and optimize a Google Business Profile

Google Business Profile (previously called Google My Business) is a free tool that lets you list your legal services in Google Search and Google Maps. In this profile, you can list your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) as well as photos of your office location (interior and exterior). When optimized correctly, your profile might appear on top of the search results (called the Local Map Pack) that mentions your location. 

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List Your Criminal Defense Firm In Legal Directories

Listing your firm in legal directories like Avvo and can help further boost your online presence on top of having a Google Business Profile. Make sure that your law firm’s contact information like business name, address, and phone number is the same in all your listings and incorporate your target keyword into your business descriptions and headlines.

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6. Run Google Ads

If your criminal defense firm has the budget, you can try running PPC campaigns using Google Ads. This allows you to place ads on top of organic search results and pay only when someone clicks on the ad. 

Running Google ads gives you the advantage of getting on top of SERPs as a sponsored post. Below is an example of Google ads for the keyword “criminal defense lawyers in Las Vegas.”

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As you can see, Google ads can help you get more website traffic that can help you get criminal defense clients for your firm. These ads need to link to landing pages that sell a specific service that matches the ad. 

7. Use Traditional PR

Traditional PR, although not used as widely today, is still a powerful way to reach people who are looking for criminal defense attorneys. Leverage your firm’s connections with the community and the media to create brand awareness while demonstrating your expertise in your field. 

You can implement PR by:

  • Press releases: Writing industry news for media outlets
  • Media interviews: Speak as a qualified professional on TV/radio interviews
  • Sponsored events: Sponsor events related to your law practice
  • Community outreach: Support community programs that relate to your firm’s ideals

8. Try Local Services Ads

Local Services Ads are types of Google Ads that show up on top of Google Search results and Google Maps, and only appear to people who are looking for the service within their area. Unlike standard Google Ads, advertisers pay per lead, which means they only pay when a potential client contacts them from the ad.

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9. Experiment With Video Marketing

Adding video marketing can help you connect with your audience more effectively and make a more compelling case for people to hire you. 

You can create videos in-house or hire a video marketing agency to create high-quality videos for you. From explainer videos, testimonials, how-to’s, behind-the-scenes, and interviews, you can help viewers with their legal concerns while promoting your legal practice. 

10. Leverage Social Media

Social media remains to contribute to sales for some businesses, so don’t take this strategy off your marketing playbook. In fact, a study shows that 66% of Facebook users visit a local business page at least once a week. 

Creating posts for your social media platforms and scheduling them ensures your pages are always updated. You’ll also need to allocate time to respond to comments and schedule live video broadcasts to connect with your followers in real-time. 

You can hire a social media marketing agency to do this for you if your firm does not have the bandwidth for this marketing initiative.

11. Begin Criminal Defense SEO

As a criminal defense firm, you are going to compete with fierce competition online. To stand out without having to resort to paid ads, you need to focus on optimizing your website design and content. 

Here are some aspects of law firm SEO that you can apply to your website:

On-Page SEO: Optimizing your website elements like URLs, titles, meta descriptions, and image titles to appear in search engine results pages.

Off-Page SEO: Performing link building outreach to acquire backlinks from high-authority websites.

Local SEO: Optimizing business listings for all of your business’s locations using Local SEO strategies.

Technical SEO: Fixing technical and structural issues in your website to improve speed, security, and usability.

12. Answer Client Questions on Your Blog

Starting a blog is essential to your content marketing campaign. In your blog, you can answer frequently asked questions (FAQs) from your audience or past clients. 

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Publishing quality content helps you demonstrate your expertise as a criminal defense lawyer while giving your audience a more compelling reason to hire you.

13. Experiment With Traditional Marketing

Not everyone uses the internet to look for a lawyer. A study shows that the older demographic (people ages 50 and up) spend almost twice as much of their time reading newspapers and watching TV compared to people aged 21 to 34. 

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Tradition marketing is great for criminal defense law firms because they can target local customers (billboards, flyers, local TV stations). While these methods may not immediately lead to a sale, it helps build brand awareness and keeps the law firm on a person’s mind, ready to be of use in the future in case they do need a lawyer. 

14. Get More Online Reviews

Online reviews about your firm are great social proof of the quality of service you provide your clients. Positive reviews help you boost your online reputation and also helps with Local SEO because your review ratings show below your business names in your Google Business Profile.

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Getting more reviews from platforms like Facebook, Google, or Yelp help build trust with prospects. Always encourage your clients to leave a review and make it a habit to read and respond to all your reviews, even negative ones. 

15. Monitor The Performance Of Your Marketing Campaigns

Keeping track of all your marketing campaigns is important because you need to know what methods are working. 

Using tools like Google Analytics to understand your website metrics is vital to understanding your performance. It can help you identify areas for improvement and spot which pages are performing well.

Other tools you can use are Hootsuite for social media analytics, Ahrefs for keyword research and analytics, and HubSpot for lead generation metrics.

16. Leverage PR to Build Social Proof

Starting a PR digital marketing campaign in 2023 could still be effective at improving your public perception. For instance, look at the national coverage Joe Exotic’s attorney received after the premiere of the Netflix show Tiger King:

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Their website received huge media attention and lots of valuable links, which also helped their SEO efforts:

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You don’t need a Netflix show for yourself for PR. But it could establish your thought leadership if you’ve strong opinions on pressing issues around subjects related to your law practice. Bryan Stevenson, a human rights lawyer, reached over 7.9M people through his impassioned TED talk about racial bias in the American criminal justice system.

All legal PR campaigns won’t be successful. Even if more people in your local community get to know you as a criminal defense attorney through a campaign, they are more likely to inquire about your services when they need them.

Here’s an example of a criminal lawyer sharing a day in his life with a jobs portal for law students and graduates in Australia:

Such interviews can get your name out there, so hiring a PR agency to find such opportunities and pitch on your behalf could make sense.

17. Start a Podcast For Your Criminal Defense Firm

Podcasting is a warmer medium of communication than text. It also makes for more convenient consumption for your website visitors. Besides, an interview-style podcast can scale the reach for criminal defense firms — especially if your interviewees share their podcast episodes with their network.

Sure podcasting remains a less crowded channel, but maybe because it’s difficult to launch one. For instance, what subject do you start a podcast about? You can begin producing informational episodes to educate your defendants. Here’s a Texas Criminal Defense firm’s podcast episode where they discuss white-collar crimes:

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You can also invite your audience to ask questions you can answer on your show. Stephen Palmer, a criminal defense attorney at Yavitch & Palmer Co, is a co-host for Lawyer Talk: Off The Record, and they offer the option to submit a question:

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18. Hire a Law Firm Marketing Agency

Marketing your criminal defense law firm is a full-time job. Law firms don’t often have the resources to manage ad campaigns and publish content for their site. This is why hiring a law firm marketing agency is the best solution that yields great results. 

We have worked with criminal defense attorneys and helped them implement highly successful marketing campaigns. We offer a free consultation to listen to your goals and help you reach them. Contact us today to get started!

Kim Barloso

Article by Kim Barloso


  • Chintan

Kim Barloso writes different types of content that helps businesses and brands establish their online presence. Before venturing into writing ten years ago, she was a communications trainer for customer support companies. These days, she keeps herself busy with writing and catching up on true crime documentaries.