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What is an SSL Certificate and Why Do Law Firm Websites Need Them?

Law firms are implicitly trusted by their clients through many established systems. From the diplomas on the wall to state boards of examiners, lawyers and clients alike expect trust through protocols. But many firms have not put the same amount of effort into building trust and reputation online as they have in their communities. Here, we examine one of the easiest ways to get a certificate for your firm’s website that matters as much as any accreditation.

Security is in the Name

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates provide a form of validation for your website that confirms there are no intermediaries between the web host and the web page. As with all software, there is a lot of background work that goes into this security protocol, but its function is relatively simple. An SSL certificate proves that a website is who it says it is, similarly to the way that multiple forms of identification verify that a person is who they say they are.

Prevent Fake IDs from Stealing Your Clients’ Information

SSL certificates protect against the digital version of a “fake ID,” where hackers create a shadow version of your website and gather information that potential clients intended to send to you. That could include credit card information, personal identification, and even case details. Just as it would ruin a legal practice if one of its lawyers were found to have a fake diploma, an insecure website could ruin your firm’s reputation and cost massive amounts of money in damages.

Why Web Security Matters, Even if You Rarely Use Your Website

Many firms believe that since they do not accept sensitive data through their website, there is no reason to invest in additional security steps. However, websites are a public-facing representation of your data security practices, and many clients (as well as search engines!) recognize this. Failing to secure your website could result in a “backdoor attack” like the massive Target data breach of 2013, and it can cost you valuable SEO rankings, as search engines increasingly favor secure websites to ensure end-to-end satisfaction and data security in search results.

Get SSL Now

Making your site secure is a quick and easy process—as long as you already have the best practices in place.

Here is an overview of the steps, but it’s important to remember that these assume your overall information security protocols are good ones.

  1. Host your website with a dedicated IP address. This is a good idea for every facet of your business’ information security, but it is essential to securing an SSL certificate.
  2. Buy a certificate. The certificate itself must be purchased; it is essentially a “password” created by a third-party that you pay to use every year, thus proving to the world-wide-web that your site is what it says it is.
  3. Activate the certificate. Once you own an SSL certificate, it’s time to activate it. This process varies depending on where you purchase it, but the steps are usually easy to follow.
  4. Install the certificate on your website. Every web host has a different process for installation, but again, it is easy to follow through your host’s website.
  5. Update your site to use HTTPS. With a few changes in the backend, you can activate the secure sockets layer and your website will be secure online.

In Conclusion

Qualifications aren’t just wall hangings comprised of special paper etched with fancy calligraphy; they’re the means by which lawyers, like any professionals, certify their expertise, thus maximizing the appeal of their reliability to potential clients. In a world where an individual’s online presence is becoming just as pivotal to their reputation as their real-life persona, it follows that a professional’s web spaces be vetted for similar qualifications of their ability to get the job done. By following these tips and ensuring that your cyberspaces echo the proven professionalism of your office, you’ll ascertain that your clients have the utmost faith in your work, whether it’s in person or online.

© Copyright 2018 PracticePanther

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About this Author

Jaliz Maldonado, Practice Panther Miami Legal Marketing and Law Office Management author

Jaliz Maldonado is an eight-year Army Veteran and is currently in graduate school at the University of Miami where she is studying for her MBA. When she's not working at PracticePanther as the Operations Manager or studying, she's hanging out with her English Bulldog named Dumbell, painting, or reading. Jaliz is also strong with the force and belongs to House Slytherin. Make sure to connect with her via Linkedin and follow her on twitter @JalizMaldonado.

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