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2017 Winners: Technology Management - Website, Analytics and SEO, Total Website Refresh/Overhaul Totaling Between $75,001 - $175,000

First Place

Blaney mcmurty llp (partnered with Greenfield Belser, a Finn Partners Company)

Blaney McMurty Website

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Summary: 

Blaney McMurtry is a Canadian firm that flies under the radar of many of the country’s larger national and global law firms because of their size and focus. Founded and based in the heart of Toronto’s financial district, they are one of Canada’s premier law firms and an industry recognized top 10 regional firm with an outstanding reputation. What they do, they do exceptionally well and they are very proud to have been recognized by the legal industry and ranked for their top level expertise in litigation & advocacy, real estate and business law. As the legal market changes and firms right-size, collapse or consolidate into ever larger entities, Blaney McMurtry is quite content to focus solely on what they do best. However, the old marketing materials and website did not do justice to the exceptional reputation of today’s firm. They engaged in a website redesign and re-branding initiative with the goal of better explaining their message, their position in the marketplace, their image and their capabilities to current and future clients. And, using elements of the Legal Lean Sigma® methodology, they also built some significant efficiencies into their marketing and business development processes that are delivering real value to the firm.

Read more.


The marketing team wanted Blaneys’ lawyers to appear accessible, friendly and down-to-earth, while still maintaining a place to showcase their sterling reputation. Each aspect of the web design reinforces these two divergent points. The website initiative included:

  • Bold new images and graphic design (e.g., the firm is in your city, “on the ground”, in the heart of Toronto’s financial district.
  • New biography photos for web and proposal usage showing award-winning lawyers looking at the camera and many of them smiling to make each lawyer feel more approachable.
  • Compelling, easy-to-use “how can we be of service” drop down with non-lawyer language to help visitors navigate the site and present Blaneys’ lawyers as down to earth.
  • Extensive proof points that carry through the site in each of the main industry and practice areas and sub-areas.
  • Clients’ outstanding testimonials from Chambers, among others, are highlighted and used throughout the website, advertising and other sales tools.

Not only was the CMS technology obsolete and hard to use, but the look, feel and effectiveness of the interface was considered dark, bland, word-based and unreflective of the quality of this top 10 regional law firm. As with any project of this scope, the work was a labor of love; in this case, spanning nine months (and more if you include all the research and analysis done at the outset).

  • The generation of two new directional designs for the new website and execution of focus groups with clients and internal groups to vet the designs.
  • Selection and implementation of a new CMS desktop, tablet and mobile-friendly design and development.
  • Editing and/or rewriting most of the content across the site and making it SEO-friendly.
  • Creating and launching new ads and e-marketing templates.
  • Coordinating 125 plus new lawyer bio photos taken at offices all over the map.
  • Commissioning original images from a local photographer to illustrate pages on the site.

As of Nov. 16, 2016 a Google Analytics year-over-year six month comparison shows an increase of 43 percent in users and 33 percent in page views overall. According to Catherine Meaney, Consultant, Strategic Marketing & Business Development at Blaneys and Certified Yellow Belt in Legal Lean Sigma® “Some the best results are the ones we can’t see.” Prior to the launch of the new CMS, creating, updating and publishing bios included about 15 steps and took 20 minutes per bio for the multiple versions maintained. Now, updates are made once in the CMS and a digital, print-ready bio is produced immediately by clicking an icon. The bio function used to take account for 35 – 40 percent of a job and it is now only about 10 percent of a less administrative role.


Second Place

Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP

Hicks Morley - Website Redevelopment and Launch

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Summary: What was conceptualized as a simple refresh morphed into to a complete website reconstruction for a Toronto-based human resources law powerhouse with a growing national presence. Hicks Morley is a leading management-side labor and employment boutique based in Toronto with four additional offices across Ontario. Over the past four decades the firm has experienced tremendous growth including an increased national presence and reach, despite its geographical location. In addition to its legal services, the firm is widely recognized for its thought leadership and continuing legal education programs. It envisioned - and successfully achieved - three key goals for its new content-rich website:

  1. Reflect the evolution and scope of the firm’s practice, and position Hicks Morley as a leader in Canadian Human Resources law and advocacy, by highlighting its breadth of expertise and jurisdictional reach beyond Ontario markets.
  2. Promote a simplified and significantly enhanced user experience through an intuitive navigation and easy access to the firm’s many resources, from any device or screen size.
  3. Increase time spent across the site through the display of valuable content that is dynamic, visually appealing, search engine friendly and shareable Hicks Morley’s executive committee established a lean website committee, consisting of senior staff in the firm’s IT, KM and BD departments, and tasked them to work with preferred external design agency, Zync to deliver a new website, compliant with Canadian accessibility legislation, within a very fixed budget.

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The committee leveraged the varied perspectives, skills and expertise of its members, in a harmonious collaboration. They continuously revisited the firm’s stated goals for the new site, conducted extensive SEO and CI research, analyzed leading sites, looked at best practices and carefully considered users’ needs and personas: A clear and intuitive information architecture, where the user could effectively find information based on areas of interest, was a key requirement. In addition to a mega menu that provides one-click access to subpages, an expetise area was added to provide users with three entry points to the firm’s services: based on the nature of their business (business operations), the industry in which they operate (industries) or the services they require (practice areas). Also included for each practice area, industry group and lawyer bio is a new related works section, using plain English descriptions of work highlights so that the user can quickly identify the firm’s experience in handling a particular issue.

After 101 days of agile development, including importing 2,000+ pieces of content, sourcing 45+ new images, re-writing 110+ lawyer bios and 25+ practice and industry group descriptions, Hicks Morley's new site launched on Mar. 31, 2016, with users now experiencing:

  • A modern, responsive design that is compliant with the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, at Level AA.
  • An improved search function that returns results based on relevancy.
  • Better cross-referencing and surfacing of related content to engage users and keep them on the site longer.
  • A more robust publications section, which incorporates the content from the firm's two blogs, so that all content is accessible in one space.
  • Integration with social media to share the firm’s content.

While Hicks Morley will continue to expand and improve functionality of its new website to further enhance the user experience, they are extremely proud to have delivered a website of its caliber within a fixed budget and with limited resources - to resounding positive feedback from their clients.

Hicks Morley is a leading management-side labour and employment boutique based in Toronto with four additional offices across Ontario. They have experienced tremendous growth, including an increased national presence and reach. In addition to legal services, the firm is widely recognized for its thought leadership and continuing legal education programs. They envisioned, and successfully achieved, three key goals for a new content-rich website:

      1. Position Hicks Morley as a leader in Canadian Human Resources law and advocacy, by highlighting the breadth of their expertise and jurisdictional reach beyond Ontario markets
      2. Promote a simplified and significantly enhanced user experience through an intuitive navigation and easy access to the firm’s many resources and share content, from any device or screen size
      3. Increase time spent across the site through the display of valuable content that is dynamic, visually appealing, search engine friendly and shareable

A lean website committee (from the firm’s IT, KM and BD groups) worked in a harmonious collaboration with external design agency, Zync, leveraging the perspectives, skills and expertise of each team member. They revisited their goals regularly, conducted extensive SEO and CI research, looked at leading sites for inspiration, read up on website best practices and considered the user journey and different personas. They structured the expertise section to give users multiple paths to information and to self-identify based on their interests and needs: the nature of their operations (business operations: Canadian-Based, US-Based, or International); the industry in which they operate (industries); or the types of services they required (practice areas). They also included a related works section with plain-English descriptions of work highlights for a particular practice area, industry group and lawyer. Throughout the agile development of the website, the user remained top of mind.

The project was originally envisioned as a simple refresh, but as the firm’s last refresh was in 2010 and as the firm wished to improve the site’s accessibility, it morphed into a complete redesign and rebuild. In addition to their day jobs, the core website committee members were extremely hands-on by writing copy, parsing files, stripping code, configuring plugins and sourcing and cropping images. After 101 days in development, including importing 2,200 pieces of content, sourcing 45 new images, re-writing 110 lawyer bios and 25 practice and industry group descriptions, Hicks Morley's new site launched on Mar. 31, 2016. Since this launch date:

  • Average session duration has increased 34 percent
  • Average time on pages has increased by 50 percent on mobile and tablet
  • Total number of sessions has increased by 11 percent
  • Average session duration has increased by 52 percent

This increase in session duration speaks directly to the improved user experience and the surfacing of relevant content.


Honorable Mention

Stark & Stark

Stark & Stark Website Redesign

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Summary:  Ultimately, Stark & Stark wanted to set the website apart from other firm sites while still remaining true to their brand, and they also wanted to bring a firm-wide consistency while connecting to the local communities. In unifying their brand with the new site, they selected three landmark bridge photos to create a visual connection to our geographic footprint. Additionally, we created a much more user-friendly interface that improved the accessibility of critical information on all pages of the website.

With the new open source platform, they were able to gain more control over the site and content, realized an overall reduction in annual cost, a substantial improvement in functionality and efficiency and achieved a mobile responsive design. Since launch, traffic has remained consistent, while user interaction has significantly improved. The average session duration on the website is up 25 percent, the bounce rate is down 5.3 percent, mobile traffic is up 10 percent and overall lead conversion is up roughly 50 percent. The new business realized is $320,000, based on the 120-day period since launch date, during which time the plaintiff’s practices have opened 40 new cases that can be directly traced to contact via the new website, compared to 31 new cases in the 5 months prior.

Read more.


Stark & Stark serves as counsel to a wide range of clients, from businesses to individuals from all over the country. This was one of the main challenges they faced when targeting their audience: appealing to such a wide variety of clientele while still maintaining a consistent brand. Stark & Stark began an effort to move away from a proprietary to an open source CMS platform, seeking more control and ownership of our web content. Together, the technology coordinator and director of marketing recognized the need to make a CMS platform change when the existing website infrastructure became an impediment to meeting their goals. The old sites utilized an outdated subdomain structure, which caused them to be viewed as separate sites in the eyes of the search engines. Unifying the file structure domain allowed them to exploit the strength of their top level domain. Furthermore, they wanted the new website to incorporate a mobile responsive design to comply with updates to the Google search algorithm.

In reviewing open source CMS platforms, the team devoted many hours to researching service providers whose product offering met their needs. The project was organized by the firm’s marketing team and the project requirements were heavily outlined through many discovery and strategy calls with service providers. They researched over a dozen providers, comparing platforms, budgets, estimated timeline and SEO experience/strategy. Furthermore, an early challenge identified at the outset was to avoid proprietary CMS platforms or any platform that restricted their access to the back end of the website. Once the vendor was engaged, the team had roughly 15 weeks to complete design, development and roll out. To do this, they had to keep the internal team small. Remarkably, the accelerated time schedule led to few out-of-scope revisions or change orders. Ultimately, the lean team approach and dedication to open and regular communication with the vendor helped them finish the project on time and under budget.

The ultimate goal was to transform the website into a unified and consistent platform that meets the unique needs of each of the firm’s practice areas. This effort supports the firm-wide goal of providing the most efficient and helpful service to potential, current and past clients. To meet this goal, they needed a complete redesign of the website that reinforced their brand message, enhanced user experience and supported the growth and expansion of the firm’s web presence with a mobile-first strategy. With the new open source platform, the team was able to gain more control over the site and content, realized an overall reduction in annual cost, a substantial improvement in functionality and efficiency, and achieved a mobile responsive design. Since launch, traffic has remained consistent, while user interaction has significantly improved. The average session duration on our website is up 25 percent, the bounce rate is down 5.3 percent, mobile traffic is up 10 percent and overall lead conversion is up roughly 50 percent.