You are a lawyer. You have successfully completed more years of education than the general population, have probably sat for more than one bar exam and have lost countless hours of sleep over the years getting to where you are today. Along the way, you have seen great success and have learned from failure. The practice of law has been a passion in your life and you have probably devoted a large portion of your time to the success of your legal career. After all, having your name on the door doesn’t come easily.
I once sat on the opposite side of a desk from a very well-known, successful lawyer and watched her tear apart a contract. It was like watching a surgeon perform an intricate operation. It was exhilarating to witness, not because I was eager to contest the changes being made with the originator, but because there was such passion in what she was doing.
I have had the opportunity to work alongside lawyers for many years, in many different capacities. At the conclusion of my first decade working alongside litigators, mediators and superior court judges, I felt I had a handle on the passion and work ethic that the majority of lawyers possess. Just like Cyndi Lauper says, “lawyers just want to practice law”… wait, wrong lyrics. But you get my point.
Why is lawyer marketing 101 not a required class in law school? After working tirelessly toward the success of your legal career, marketing your firm to potential clients should be in the syllabus. Getting clients is necessary for a law firm in order to be successful, and establishing a plan to build awareness of your firm is essential. A solo practitioner has no choice but to become keenly aware of how to market his or her skills and success, and the job stability of a mid-level partner with a large firm greatly depends on his or her ability to bring in new clients.
What might be holding you back?
When developing a marketing plan for your firm, maybe you aren’t sure where to start, or maybe you just want to focus on practicing law and can’t find the time to market. There are many lawyers who are turned off by marketing or unconvinced that it is worthy of their time. After all, billable hours come first and marketing strategies are time-consuming. If you are a lawyer who is fully on board with your marketing plan, then you have most likely reaped the benefits.
Some lawyers may think that if they devote all of their time to doing quality legal work there is simply no need to market – that the work will speak for itself. Others may be worried that marketing their firm will overwhelm them with clients and they won’t be able to keep up. The simple truth is, whatever it is that is holding you back could be preventing you from taking your firm to the next level of success.
The bare essentials of marketing your firm
The amount of time necessary to effectively market a law firm will vary from firm to firm, but at the lowest level, it can add several hours of work each week. If you are unfamiliar with marketing strategies, the time you do spend could be time wasted. Marketing a law firm is not about cold calling and slinging business cards. It is an intricate process that involves weaving the fibers of your firm’s ability, success, philanthropy, and involvement into the daily lives of your target audience. Being at the forefront of potential clients’ minds is an important pathway to building your caseload.
There are endless opportunities to market your firm. The following important tasks should be performed on a consistent, recurring and/or intermittent basis:
- Website: Keep content up-to-date, write and post blogs, update your site with new lawyers’ bio information, and post press releases.
- Social Media: Share and schedule new content and updates frequently, respond to messages and comments, interact with your audience, share information from your website, and boost posts to gain new audience.
- Newsletters: Whether in print or electronically, send your contacts newsletters, updates and invitations to events, and press releases regarding firm news.
- Events: Host CLE events, speaking engagements, lunch-and-learns, and networking meetings, to name a few.
- Whitepapers: Maintain up-to-date professionally designed informational packets about your firm, lawyers, practice areas, etc. in paper and electronic formats.
There are many more marketing efforts that can be added to help improve the effectiveness of your strategy like search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click advertising (PPC), creating creative assets and more.
The Role of the Marketer
With all of the time you devote to helping clients succeed in their cases, it is understandable that there is simply no time at the end of the day to perform necessary daily marketing tasks or even think about planning for larger ones. You need to have someone, or better yet, a team of professionals to handle it for you, either as part of your firm, or with a trusted partner.
However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that your firm’s marketing can be completely handed off to someone else. The information that is needed to keep your content fresh, accurate and up-to-date flows directly from the source – the lawyers and staff at your firm. Without your involvement in your firm’s own marketing, the noteworthy, beneficial and relevant information that you collect on a daily basis is lost.
Hiring a marketing professional, whether in-house or consultant-based, to help you communicate your brand, determine what is noteworthy and keep the communication flowing with your target audience will help to establish your authority in your field. A marketing professional who has spent years honing his or her skills to effectively market and create brand awareness can generate results and provide you more time to focus on billable work. With better marketing resulting in more clients, you’ll need it!
In all of my years working alongside lawyers to market their firms I have never seen a firm unhappy with their decision to hire a professional to help with their marketing efforts. No one has complained about their increased reach, improved branding, social presence, positive reviews, or the clients that have retained their firm because of a particular campaign or well-titled blog post.
Lawyers are loyal, passionate, diligent, have excellent judgment and are skilled in many areas, particularly the practice of law. But a competent law firm marketer can promote these characteristics to your audience and prospects in a way that engages them and turns them into clients. Proper marketing of your firm can help you achieve your goals and take your success to the next level.