Practical law office marketing and consulting!


For sole practitioners and small firms

Index to Notes 
and Articles


Lawyer Marketing & Advertising

  • Advertising is not marketing!
    Too many lawyers equate advertising to marketing. This is inaccurate. Advertising and marketing have existed in the legal profession for many years - Abraham Lincoln advertised his legal services in the local paper. The regulation of lawyer advertising is a recent development, as well as the erosion of the prior restraints that the bar formerly used to control advertising and enhance the professionalism of the legal profession. Consequently, the key hidden danger in legal marketing is the advertising rules and limitations on solicitation.  
    • Good Lawyers Attract Good Clients.
      Maybe yes, maybe not. But the question is really - can not so good lawyers advertise and market their services and make a good living and get good clients?  You bet. 

      Good lawyers do not always do well, and the reason may very well have nothing to do with advertising and marketing.  But we know of not-so-good lawyers who do market and advertise their wares in various areas - most notable automobile accidents and personal injuries. Are they good trial lawyers?  Experienced litigators?  Former insurance counsel who know how to settle cases?  Competence? Not necessarily.  

      One thing is certain, however, and that is that these law firms have carved out a niche (branded, niched, defined an image etc) by hitting the consumer with a consistent message time and time again so that a significant portion of the public believes they need this or that firm when they are hurt because that firm has developed and encouraged that perceived need.  What is that need?  Trust?  Quick sums of money?  No costs until case settled?  Cute?  By golly, if they can get a bunch of bucks for them, why not me? Personally handle each and every case?  Feared by the insurance adjusters?  Available 24/7?  Willing take on the clients worries and fears and protect them in a cruel hard world? 

      Are YOU the marketing plan
      I heard one experienced and successful attorney say that a marketing plan was a waste of time;  then upon reconsideration of that statement said your best marketing plan is to provide quality and timely legal services to your clients and the rest will fall into place - clients will come and you will keep the ones you have.

      As well all know, this train of thought is still at the train station.   Although the lawyer is the critical element in any marketing plan, it is not the only element.  Henry Ford would not have succeeded very long if all he had to sell was a cheap and expensive car - he had good and cheap and inexpensive car which kept the public buying more and more and more.   

      Personal injury litigation is one of the most profitable and bountiful areas of the practice of law and has proven a fertile ground for years -  if you have any doubts hook up to your local cable or television channel and you will see locally and nationally produced ads seeking cases from the injured and the oppressed while at the same time preying on the hurt individual's  fears of the oppressive insurance company so that they just have to hire this lawyer - thet NEED to hire this lawyer for their case knowing they there is no recovery for the lawyer unless the client recovers.  However, the the bargain basement price of 1/3 to 40% of their recovery is not mentioned up front, and hidded in the message is that the client is always obligated for the costs of the litigation!
  • Marketing is ANY positive encounter with the Public.
    Consider marketing as any opportunity that you have to make a positive impression with a client or a potential client.  You don't have to close the deal every time you have a contact or meeting with these people.  But a journey begins with a single step, and one bad step can spoil the whole journey.  
    • Marketing is multifaceted.  You need a plan, someone in charge of the plan, implementation of the plan, evaluation of the plan, and perseverance of the plan. 
  • Ethical Limitations to Marketing.

    Before venturing out into the web, every lawyer should examine his or her state's ethical rules regarding lawyer advertising.  These rules of professional responsibility define the parameters of legally permissible advertising and marketing.  Failure to do so places your law license in jeopardy.  

    Here are some sites and web pages to provide you some detailed guidance on ethics and professional responsibility issues involving the internet, email, advertising, marketing, and the practice of law in today's high-paced world on the information super highway.
Marketing Plan
  • Do You Need A Plan?
    Who needs a plan?  Not you!  Of course not, why would you have plan for marketing your business? Do you use a plan in the following areas of your practice?
    • Estate planning for taxes.
    • Litigation - plaintiff or defendant - discovery and trial.
    • A simple letter to a client or an opponet.

    You use a plan in everything you do.  It's just that some plans are no longer formally, detailed documents since you have the plan memorized and down pat.  At one time, you used a map for directions to your favorite vacation spot; now you don't use the map because you know where you are going.  Now do you get it???

  • Some myths or errors in law office marketing.
    • We're lawyers, not business men.  
      Failure to acknowledge that you are not only in a profession but a profession that is a business will mean you and the "dot commers" have a lot in "dot common" - not making money.
    • Normal marketing techniques work for lawyers.
      What a way to lose your license.  Not only are there ethical and professional responsibility limitations you must account for, but this is not a tube of toothpaste that you are selling.  Not every technique works for toothpaste, and ditto for your law practice.
    • Marketing is Selling.
      No.  Selling is selling.  Marketing is taking advantage of every encounter you have with a member or the public or a potential client and transforming that into a positive experience.  They may not be a client today, or even the next; but when they become a client, maybe, just maybe the experience with you was positive enough so that you will be their lawyer.  Clients are not buying a marketing plan or a will or any other particular legal commodity.  Surprisingly enough, many lawyers can do what you do;  you are not unique.  Therefore, what is it that will make you stand out?  The intangibles of your professional service if they are new clients - the building, the card, the letterhead, the reputation, the handshake, the caring, the competence, the coffee mug.  All of them or something else.  But it must be you and your name or firm that comes to mind when a lawyer is needed.  No blue light specials here.
    • Let's use a brochure or newsletter.
      Not by itself folks.  If you do not plan to sell you and your practice yourself, then you may have to rely on a piece of paper to do it for you.  However, a brochure can't carry you for long.  Eventually, you must deliver.  Brochures and newsletters are only one step in the process - just another opportunity to have a positive encounter with a potential client.
    • Reputation sells.
      Reputation reminds me of a local automobile tire campaign - 'Reputation you can ride on.'  Well, you law firm's reputation is what you have done in the past;  therefore, it is a platform for your future.  But your client's live in the present, and your firm's reputation is embodied in that lawyer and that case with that client.  It's kind of like, "Well, what have you done for me lately."  Do a good job, and they will tell a few people.  Do a bad job, and the whole world knows it.  Maintain your reputation, but live in the past and rely on it as your sole competitive marketing tool.
    • Quality Sells.
      Quality is  part and parcel to professionalism.  Quality work should be a given.  Quality does not give you a competitive edge, but lack of quality can keep you out of the marketing game.  Besides, a quality product packaged with an arrogant, self-centered, and uncaring lawyer may end up hidden in the other messages.
    • Marketing Budget Equates to Percentage of Revenue.
      Not necessarily. I once heard a story that Error Flynn said that when you are down and out without a penny or a job was the time to put on your best suit and hat and hit the town.  Well,  maybe.  In either event,  arbitrary formulas don't work.  Plan on what it is you want to accomplish and spend accordingly.  Other marketing tools to monitor this is a marketing calendar to see if things are working.
    • Image is what counts.
      No.  Reality counts.  Image gets them in the door.  Quality and reality is what keeps them there and coming back for more.
    • Marketing is a science.
      No.  Marketing like war is an art.  Nothing works the same way twice.  Television may fly in New York City, but local cable access may have an empty audience in Lower Five Mile, West Virginia.  Sometimes the pros from Dover don't know what is best for you, but you should (and must) listen before making that decision.
    • Marketing does not need planning.
      Do I really have to address that one again.  I have an Army phrase we used - "Failing to plan is planning to fail."  End of discussion.

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