Thursday, July 17, 2008

What Does it Mean? PR Tips for Lawyers

Attorneys who can answer the question, "what does it all mean?" have a better chance of getting media coverage in turbulent market cycles, according to our recent post.

Wall Street and Main Street hate uncertainty, so the enterprising attorney or law firm who can demonstrate a leadership approach in these tough times stands a better chance of gaining increased visibility and possibly market share.

Here is a case in point. Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal published an article entitled "Law Firms Gear Up -- and Wait -- For Anticipated Bankruptcies." The gist of the article is that the number of high value bankruptcies to date is less than expected, leaving some firms that rely on this countercyclical practice with available capacity.

Our key point is to bring your attention to the closing paragraph. The reporter asks: "What does it all mean for the lawyers?"

In this case, the answer to the WSJ reporter's question is found in the quote of a law professor:

"It depends on the firm's business plan," said Jack Williams, who teaches bankruptcy law at Georgia State University College of Law in Atlanta. Mr. Williams predicts that firms that can juggle a lot of short-term engagements are going to do well. "But those who stick with a more traditional approach," like relying on one or two cases that drag on for years, might struggle. "That business plan just isn't going to square with what's going on."

The Rainmaking Lady offers two observations:

  1. You, too, have a chance of getting quoted in the media when you can offer a credible analysis of what given market conditions mean to your clients and constituents
  2. Stay focused on your sales pipeline for new case development. While it's great to hit the ball out of the park with a huge case, it might take a lot of smaller matters to keep paying the bills.

Here's your homework: see how you can put this to work in your law firm marketing program.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Wall Street to Main Street: How Law Firms can Survive Market Turbulence

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke shared his economic concerns with Congress today. "The possibility of higher energy prices, tighter credit conditions, and a still-deeper contraction in housing markets all represent significant downside risks to the outlook for growth," Bernanke said.

What is a law firm Managing Partner to do when preparing to weather today's troubled market conditions?

The secret is to try and make the stock market uncertainty work to your benefit. How, you ask? Here are two market survival techniques that might work for your law firm.

Marketing in Tough Times Tip #1: Attorneys have a special ability to analyze both the up-side and potential down-sides of a given situation. Law firms can demonstrate their leadership role by using these skills to proactively help clients and prospects evaluate their own business environment.

Attorneys can facilitate internal client discussions, and/or external negotiations with vendors, that will help clients make effective business decisions in regard to cost reduction, supply chain management, revenue enhancement, or improved customer service.

Marketing in Tough Times Tip #2: Inflationary pressures and financial instability force business owners and employees to ask, "what does this mean to me?" Attorneys who figure out a way to answer the many variations of this question may be able to find a platform among members of the media who are trying to report on the answers.

Consider for a moment the above-referenced topics raised by Mr. Bernanke. Your law firm may be able to offer the media targeted legal insights or perspective. Here are some examples:
  • Energy prices. Is there pending legislation that you can help interpret? Or is there a way for your business clients to hedge a significant energy budget; if so, what are the legal implications?
  • Tighter credit. Perhaps your clients need assistance in the enforcement of previously unused collection terms that are frequently overlooked in more prosperous times. Or perhaps they need to learn the "best practices" in factoring their accounts receivable.
  • Deeper contractions in the housing market. Is there a way you can help employers who rely on you for legal advice to provide assistance to struggling employees?

These are just a few examples, and they may or may not work for you. But you get the picture.

Rather than waiting for the dust to settle, law firms that take a reasoned, well-positioned leadership role in today's uncertain market stand a better chance of gaining stature, market share and credibility.