MARKETING YOURSELF AS AN ATTORNEY
Back by popular demand, it’s a “classic” Swan Legal Search blog post. The advice in this post has helped many attorneys market themselves and generate business. Originally posted in January 2010, it’s just as valid today. Enjoy!
Even in the best economic climate a law firm is a competitive environment. In a sea of shifting hungry laterals, partners are all seeking to maximize their individual talents and abilities. In this market, the way to shine is by generating business for the firm. Hourly rates are steep; annual billing requirements undermine attorneys’ dedication to pursuing their best and highest use. The distraction of billing, which is largely indicative of compensation, ironically serves as a barrier to the real, more long-term job security gained by marketing, rain-making and business generation. One cannot bill 2,000 hours – or have appearances of doing so – and maintain a devotion and commitment to client development. Attorneys are left with two options: Bill like a banshee or reduce billable hours and spend some working hours marketing. The former is more a short-term “fix”; it can be spotty, and screams “you’re only as good as your last case or deal” whereas the latter reaps longer-term rewards and engenders security.
Although billing is very time consuming, it’s imperative to make time each week to market yourself. Schedule one hour per day to do nothing but attempt to generate business. Look at it as an investment in your future at the firm and beyond. Even if you’ve never brought a case, you have a chance to bring great value to your firm. Here’s your schedule for the first week of rain-making.
Look through your “address book” on your computer. Organize all current or previous clients with which you personally dealt. Make sure you have email addresses and phone numbers. Do a little online research on these folks to see what they’re up to these days. Have they moved jobs, started their own businesses, achieved a great success in their business, appeared in the paper/on TV for some reason? Make a few notes for yourself on each of these current/previous clients.
Pick two or three of the clients and send emails. Don’t ask for anything, just check up with them. Mention that you saw that they recently …. (fill in the blank. Bought a business, moved their office, commented on a story on Larry King, etc.) Congratulate them.
Search your address books for your personal contacts — friends, family, ex-classmates from law school, former co-workers, etc. – and send out a newsletter. Let them know that you’re searching for new business. Make it very clear what type of case you’d like. Also, let them know that any type of leads would be helpful. Maybe they don’t know anyone who needs a bankruptcy lawyer, but they know someone who knows someone… These “friends of friends” connections can be amazing. Be clear that you’re ready to meet folks who may need your legal services.
Look for events to attend. You can look at websites for attorneys (CalBar.org, local bar associations, etc.), review charity sites, hobby sites, etc. At this point in the game, it really doesn’t matter what type of event you attend, you just need to get out there and meet people. Buy tickets or RSVP to at least 2 events that will occur over the next two weeks.
Review blogs that pertain to your area of law. Note that these blogs don’t have to be legal blogs. Go to Google and type in your area of law and the word “blog.” See what shows up. Just do a little online research. Make some notes for yourself and bookmark the blogs that you enjoy.
Marketing and rain-making can really be this simple. Stay tuned for next week’s “rainmaking schedule.” Your efforts will pay off over time. Understand that these efforts rarely result in immediate success. However, over the course of three months, you will have booked at least 65 hours marketing yourself.
For more tips on marketing yourself, contact us. We’re lawyers who have been helping lawyers for years. We understand the pressures of billing and the importance of bringing cases, and we’re excited to help you in your journey.
Let us know the results of your first week of marketing yourself. We’d love to hear from you!