However, despite all the opportunity, many lawyers are not that good at promoting themselves and their services, according to Alan Levine, president of Levine Marketing Solutions, a marketing company geared to attorneys based in South Orange, New Jersey.
Top Marketing Tools
The generally staid environment of law school is the antithesis of the creativity and savvy intrinsic to successful marketing., according to Larry Bodine, who before being named Editor-in-Chief of Lawyers.com two years ago served as a marketing consultant to lawyers and law firms for 11 years.
“Law school teaches people how to think like lawyers, not marketers,” says Bodine. “Marketers ask open-ended questions while law school teaches people to ask close-ended questions.”
So what’s Bodine’s top marketing tip for lawyers? “Use lunch to network.” Networking is key to successful marketing, and, in Bodine’s estimation, lunch is the optimum time to see and be seen. “Go out for lunch because that’s where business comes from.”
Mark Britton, the founder and CEO of Seattle-based Avvo.com, a content and lead management firm for small firms and solo practitioners, offers a different approach. While he agrees with Bodine that law schools “don’t give law students the skill set to run a business, only to be technicians,” Britton offers several practical suggestions for marketing success, including:
• Set objectives relating to marketing
• Write them down
• Refer to them often to be certain you are following through
Britton also suggests lawyers identify their target market, meaning client, to ensure that marketing efforts reach the right people. He notes members of a target market include not only prospective and current clients, but also other attorneys who might refer business to you or your firm.
Remember, urges Levine, that “marketing is about relationships and no matter how much technology is created, it’s still about the relationship between the attorney and the client.”
World Wide Web
A presence on the Internet is intrinsic to legal marketing success. “A lawyer without a web site is invisible,” opines Bodine.
Even if the site is simplistic, it's still imperative. The most important thing is that it is clean and professional, says Levine. However, Britton cautions against maintaining a dull, lifeless site. If it “spews brochure-ware,” it’s a waste, he says.
Meanwhile, the costs associated with a website are becoming ever more affordable, so lawyers should not be scared away from the prospect of having a website since there are countless companies who do all the work for a site at affordable prices. For example, for Avvo to design and maintain a welcoming, useful lawyer web site currently costs less than $200 a month, Britton says.
Another method for maintaining a web presence is participating in “Ask a Lawyer” programs online. For example, when a lawyer purchases their profile from Martindale-Hubbell, they are welcome to answer legal questions posed by the general public on the Lawyers.com website. Doing so demonstrates legal expertise and serves as a venue for generating new business.
If a lawyer does participate in a Question and Answer forum such as suggested by Bodine, he cautions them to be wary of an important consideration. “The forum should be clear that an attorney-client relationship is not established” merely by the lawyer responding to an inquiry, he says.
Just as it’s obvious to Bodine that a clean, informative web site is intrinsic to a lawyer’s success, is that the Internet created incredible marketing opportunities for nearly every business endeavor. At Lawyers.com, the Ask-a-Lawyer section is responsible for approximately one-third of the site’s overall traffic. That amounts to nearly 850,000 page views per month to the Ask-a-Lawyer section alone.
Tami Kamin Meyer is an attorney and writer. She is licensed to practice law in Ohio, the Southern District of Ohio and the US Supreme Court. She serves as Of Counsel for the Consumer Attorneys of America, a national law firm based in Florida. Her byline has appeared in publications such as Ohio Lawyer, Ohio Lawyers Weekly, Ohio Super Lawyer, Corporate Secretary, GC Mid-Atlantic and Plaintiff Magazine. In 2007, a study guide she wrote about filing personal bankruptcy was published by Quamut, a division of Barnes and Noble.