How Do I Get Criminal Defense Clients?

If you found this article, you’re probably asking yourself about effective ways to get criminal defense clients. You’re in luck because today we’re going to talk about a few tried and true methods that you can use to drum up business.

SEO for Criminal Defense Attorneys

One great way to get more clients is through search engine optimization (SEO). This involves improving your website’s ranking on search engines like Google and Bing. When people search for criminal defense attorneys in their area, your site will be one of the first results they see. And since most people don’t bother looking beyond the first page of results, this can be a great way to get more leads.

What’s So Great About SEO?

According to Smart Insights, studies show that on average, 34.2% of people searching in Google will click the website in the #1 position. And when we say “the #1 position” we’re not referring to advertisements.

The studies they show reveal that about 67.6% of the clicks in Google are in the first 5 results!

So when you’re in a city where people are searching for a defense attorney 1,000 times a month, you can see how that can easily add up in leads for your firm if you’re showing up at the top.

Upside to SEO

  • You can get massive quantities of traffic to your site.
  • Regular traffic to your site often means more leads.
  • In our experience, SEO offers the best cost per lead when it comes to marketing.
  • Taking a break from SEO doesn’t necessarily stop the leads from coming in.

Downside to SEO

  • SEO takes time. For more established lawyers and firms, it usually takes a lot less time (a matter of months).
  • Quitting SEO while mid a campaign can really waste a lot of money. It’s important to see your campaign through to a result. Ask your SEO company for an estimate on when you’ll see results. If they can’t answer that, ditch them.
  • There are SEO companies that aren’t fully transparent in what you’re getting.
  • There’s a lot to learn when it comes to SEO. It’s not going to be easy to do on your own.

That said, there are several things to look out for when hiring an SEO company. We’ll go into detail on the things to look out for.

Google Ads

Ads can be a very effective way to get clients. However, with ads you have to pay for clicks to your site, and it can get expensive if you’re not ready to close the people who click on your ads.

With the many attorneys we’ve worked with, there are certain mistakes that we’ve seen that can really ruin an ad campaign. It usually comes down to ensuring the phone gets answered and ensuring the person on the phone can close the caller.

It’s also important that you’re following some of the basic rules of advertising. For example, the headline you use in your ad should be consistent with the page that people are going to. Don’t try to rope people in with one headline, then have them land on a page that talks about something else (for example the homepage of your site). Make sure to build a page specifically for your ads.

Are Ads Any Good?

Google ads can be great. However, the cost to acquire a client is usually higher than what you’d pay with SEO.

In the short term, advertising can get you clients immediately at a higher cost. Whereas with SEO, you have to invest money for months before you start getting clients.

In the long term SEO can get you clients naturally and at a lower cost than what you pay for advertising. You can stop doing SEO for some time (or take a break for a few months) and still naturally acquire new clients without having to pay anything. But with ads as soon as you stop paying you stop getting clients from ads.

In our experience most of the attorneys we’ve worked with like to do both SEO and ads at the same time. This allows attorneys to make back their marketing spend and expand their legal practice while also seeing a return on investment while they’re building up their SEO. It wins in the short term and the long term.

Upside to Ads

  • Potentially immediate ROI (when done properly).
  • Good at any stage of business.
  • Can be shut off and started up again at any time.

Downside to Ads

  • Stop getting leads when you stop paying.
  • Doesn’t increase the value of your site (which SEO does).
  • Acquiring leads through ads is a bit more expensive than SEO.
  • At first, you might lose money while figuring out the best way to implement ads.
  • Small mistakes can cost you a lot of money.

Social Media

For some attorneys, some social media ads will work well (for example with personal injury attorneys). For criminal defense, we typically don’t recommend it.

The reason why we don’t always recommend social media advertising for defense attorneys is for a couple of reasons:

  1. Social media platforms have a difficult time targeting an audience of people who have just committed a crime in your service area.
  2. People who are searching for defense attorneys are usually going to Google and calling the first person they can get a hold of (there’s a sense of urgency).

If you’re doing more than just criminal defense, social media ads could be a great way to get clients. However, there’s one important thing to know…

Good SEO and/or a good Google Ads campaign are important for creating a good social media marketing campaign.

Without getting too technical about it, the idea is that you want platforms like Facebook and Instagram to understand the type of people visiting your site. If nobody is visiting your site, then social media platforms won’t understand who to target when you set up a social media ad campaign. In other words, the best way to run a social media campaign is going to be:

  1. Attract people to your site through SEO and Google Ads.
  2. With the tools provided by social media platforms, they’ll get an idea of who your potential clients are.
  3. Now you can run ads on Facebook.


There are actually several other ways that criminal defense attorneys can get clients. These days you can find lawyers becoming social media influencers. There is also a platform called Google Local Service Ads (not available everywhere) which is one of our favorite forms of advertising. There are also banner ads (we don’t recommend them), and then of course there are all kinds of ways to advertise outside of the internet (we haven’t seen these to be as effective for lawyers).

If you’re just starting out and want to do things on your own, there are plenty of resources available (including on this site) to help get things going.

If you’ve been around and you’re ready to beef up your marketing, let us show you some of our case studies of what we’ve done for other defense attorneys. We’d be happy to give you a presentation illustrating what you’re doing right, and the opportunities you could take advantage of. Just give us a call or check out our Discovery page for a 1 on 1 presentation. That said, we hope you got something out this and we look forward to hearing from you!