Sunday, November 27, 2011

Young Lawyers Starting their Own Law Firms

Associate attorneys are showing an entrepreneurial streak as more strike out on their own as a solo practitioner, or join forces with a partner, according to a recent New York Times article titled Skipping the Partner Track for a Shingle of One's Own.

These lawyers want more control over their futures ... they do not want to wait until they become partner to have meaningful relationships with clients. ... The economy is another factor.
A common challenge faced by these fledgling law firms in trying to build a book of business is the tendency to underestimate both expense levels and the time needed for law firm marketing.

Success factors in starting a new law practice include the following, according to several of the attorneys interviewed:
  • Flat rate billing
  • Selecting the right clients (like I always say, not every client is a good client)
  • Time management, including prioritization and scheduling time for marketing
  • Understanding your cost structure
  • Maintaining a cash cushion to allow for 3-6 months with no income
Here is a sample law firm marketing plan, for those lawyers who are busy looking ahead to 2012.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Law School Loopholes: Practical Training & Business Development

What do General Counsel and other corporate clients wish associates were taught in law school? Here is a list  law firms may want to study. It's taken from a New York Times article titled: What They Don’t Teach Law Students: Lawyering.

  • A better understanding of modern litigation practice, which is about gathering facts and knowing how to settle a case.
  • Greater familiarity with transactions law, including how to draft, evaluate and challenge a contract.
  • Deeper knowledge of regulatory law and the ability to respond to a regulatory inquiry or enforcement action.
  • Basic corporate legal skills, like how to perform due diligence.
  • Writing skills. Partners at law firms say they spend a lot of time improving the writing of their first- and second-year associates.
  • A stronger grasp of the evolving economics of legal practice, which will rely less on leveraging the time of new associates and more on entrepreneurship.

Law firms may want to add business development to the list, since getting a client is an essential skill that can be acquired over time.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Law Firm Email Newsletters Attract Business

In all the excitement about social media, it can be easy to overlook older legal marketing technology like e-newsletters.

We sent out an email newsletter recently for an attorney with an insurance practice. The newsletter list was fairly small (under 250), since we are starting some new marketing campaigns, yet it was effective in delivering two solid new business opportunities.

The email platform we use is Constant Contact, but there are many similar options available.

It is easy to integrate social media like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn with your email newsletter by just adding a few links into the body of your newsletter. Once your e-newsletter is distributed, you can also promote it by posting a link on Twitter or LinkedIn.

One common mistake to avoid with an enewsletter is to include an attachment. It is better to either include all your material in the body of your newsletter, or link out to a page on your website that provides the reader with more in-depth material. Attachments can get caught in spam filters, which means that some recipients will never get the chance to read your email.

Sending an e-newsletter once a month is a good schedule. Be sure to write a catch subject line, since that is a key determinant in whether your email is opened.

Contact the author if you would like more information on email marketing. Find me on Twitter @Rainmaking Lady, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Florida Lawyer Advertising Rules Relaxed

Restrictions placed on manipulative ads or background noises other than instrumental music by The Florida Bar violate lawyer's First Amendment rights, according to Florida federal judge Marcia Morales Howard.

The recent ruling came in a 2008 lawsuit filed by Jacksonville plaintiffs’ lawyer William Harrell Jr., who persistently challenged the constitutional aspects of Florida's attorney advertising guidelines.

As Florida lawyers are well aware, the state is one of the most restrictive in the country in regard to legal marketing promotions. Lawyers who are licensed in other states but seek business in Florida are also subject to The Florida Bar's scrutiny.

For those of you who are curious, click the following link to read The Florida Bar's 92-page! Handbook on Lawyer Advertising and Solicitation, now in its 9th edition.

This ruling is most likely to affect personal injury attorneys, who advertise aggressively to consumers across multiple marketing campaigns (TV, radio, print, Internet, etc.). The ruling does not change the requirement that most ads and direct mail campaigns need to be filed with The Florida Bar prior to or simultaneous with first use.

If you have questions about legal marketing in Florida or other states, contact the @RainmakingLady via our website.  

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Attorney Networking Tips for Business Development

Here are a few tips attorneys can use to you turn a calendar of networking events into a powerhouse for new business development.

1. Arrange the Speaker

Serving on an organization’s Program Committee gives you the perfect chance to reach out to business and community leaders within the context of a professional, non-sales environment. You will expand your network while being recognized as a go-getter.

2. Invite People to Join You

If you don’t like to go to events alone, arrange for others to join you at the event or for a bite to eat prior to arriving. Once you get there, agree to break up so you can canvas the room separately. Share leads with your friends as appropriate.

3. Review the Attendee List in Advance

Larger events frequently make a pre-show attendee list available. Check over registrant names, and send an email to those you know to suggest that you connect on site. Also identify people you want to meet, and try to arrange an introduction.

4. Connect with Prospects at the Event

Work the room at every event you attend. Set a goal of collecting 5-10 new business cards. Talk long enough for meaningful mutual interactions, and then move on to new prospects.

5. Schedule Follow Up Meetings

Ask for permission to contact a prospect or a potential referral source after the event. If they say yes, give them a call to schedule coffee or a lunch meeting.

6. Break the Ice

One of the attorneys I coach has excellent networking skills, yet finds it hard to get into the groove of a 2-3 day industry conference. One technique she’s developed to overcome this is to schedule a first day get-together for 5 to 10 people that she knows will be at an event. They might meet for a drink before the official Welcoming Reception, for example. This gives her a base of people she can stay in touch with over the course of the conference, while also reaching out to develop new contacts.

7. Find the Events Your Prospects Attend

Invest some time to identify the organizations that offer you the best mix of maximum prospects with minimum competitors. Then work these groups for a long-term growth perspective.

Contact Margaret Grisdela via Twitter @RainmakingLady or LinkedIn to discuss the legal marketing networking strategies for you. Also visit our blog

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Florida Lawyers Must be on Best Behavior

Civility is lacking in the practice of law, according to the Supreme Court of Florida.

As an inducement to better behavior, the Oath of Admission to The Florida Bar will now contain the following pledge:

To opposing parties and their counsel, I pledge fairness, integrity, and civility, not only in court, but also in all written and oral communications.

Effective immediately, the ruling recognizes the importance of respectful and civil conduct in the practice of law. The American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) played a role in the Court's decision, which also reflects a similar provision used in South Carolina.

The Code of Professional Conduct is not to be taken lightly in Florida. The Bar's scrutiny of attorney advertising is so strict that it is one of the few states in the country with a fee-based filing and review process for every advertisement (TV, radio, print, and billboard) and direct mail campaign used by a law firm (with only a few exceptions). Even lawyers not licensed in Florida, but who prospect for business in our Sunshine State, are subject to the legal marketing guidelines.

Read the full ruling of the Supreme Court of Florida, No. SC11-1702, dated September 12, 2011.

Read the ABOTA press release promoting the decision.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Recent Legal Marketing Projects

It's been a busy few months, for which I am grateful! Here are some of the projects that have kept me from blogging much.
  • Implementing an extensive integrated marketing campaign for a Florida personal injury law firm, including social media marketing on Facebook and Twitter, a new website, educational books, ads, and more.
  • Working with a Los Angeles litigation law firm to implement a marketing and business development program, including new brochures, website updates, Google AdWords, trade show support, PR, and more.
  • Assisting insurance defense law firms around the country prepare and submit applications to become panel counsel with insurance carriers and self-insured. Learn more about our insurance defense marketing services.
  • Helping a client prepare a major international direct mail campaign targeting Asian companies that may face litigation in U.S. courts.
  • Setting up a business development program for a Fort Lauderdale litigation firm, including design of a new website, logo, PR, marketing to current clients, and setting up a referral networking program. 
  • Helping solo practitioners in Maryland, New York, Tennessee, Indiana, Missouri and elsewhere look more professional with law firm brochures for use with clients and prospects.
  • Accelerating business development systems for a growing Pennsylvania trust and estates law firm.
  • Launched a new website for a London immigration law firm. 
Let's connect on Twitter @RainmakingLady or LinkedIn

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    Law Firms can Make Lemonade with Market Jitters

    Here are 5 ways a lawyer can pitch new business in today's roller coaster market:
    • Guaranteed low interest rates, courtesy of the Fed, can create opportunities for a business to refinance a loan, or a consumer to buy a house.
    • Lower equity values, while not great for 401(k) plans, present opportunities for corporate share repurchase programs or companies on the hunt for acquisitions. 
    • Bargains are available as anxious retailers, manufacturers and distributors look for ways to attract buyers. Perhaps you can help a client lock in a favorable long-term rate on an important workflow component.
    • Employees who are worried about their jobs might be receptive to more flexible work arrangements. You can help your business clients write employment agreements or update policy manuals.
    • Companies with intellectual property could look for new channels of distribution in the U.S. or internationally.
    Chances are your clients need your help with a transaction that takes advantage of today's market conditions. Let's face it, everyone is going to be cautious in the face of this week's uncertainty. Why not grab the bull by the horns and proactively identify ways that your clients can make the best of a tough situation? 

    Give some quick thought to how you can make life easier for your clients. Prepare a few ideas in advance of contacting your clients, but do it fast. One simple idea is to think of clients that you can match up for potential business opportunities.  It doesn't cost you anything other than a little time and the price of a lunch, and you will build good will if nothing else.

    Now is also a good time to pick up the pace of marketing communications. This could be as simple as picking up the telephone to catch up with those clients you haven't spoken with in a couple of weeks. Ask how they are doing, and if any plans are changing as a result of market conditions. Or you could send out an e-newsletter or a tip sheet.

    If you need assistance, this @RainmakingLady is here to help. We've got lots of marketing ideas, and can get the ball rolling quickly. Contact us at 1-866-417-7025 or visit Legal Expert Connections online.

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    Florida Bar Attorney Advertising Proposals

    The Florida Bar submitted proposed attorney advertising amendments to the Florida Supreme Court on July 5th. Here are some highlights:

    - Information on a law firm's website remains exempt from the filing
    requirements, as do safe harbor ads, legal directory listings, firm
    announcements, and client marketing materials.

    - A re-creation or staging of an event must contain a prominently displayed disclaimer, "DRAMATIZATION. NOT AN ACTUAL EVENT." For example, a re-creation of a car accident must contain the disclaimer.

    - When an actor is used as a spokesperson, there must be a prominent disclaimer.

    - Testimonials will be permissible if clients as consumers address matters of courtesy, promptness, efficiency, and professional demeanor.

    - Every advertisement that contains information about the lawyer's fee, including a contingent fee, must disclose all fees and costs that the client will be liable for. If there are costs for which the client is responsible, the advertisement must disclose this fact.

    - If both fees and costs are contingent on the outcome of a personal injury case, the statements "No Fees or Costs If No Recovery" and "No Recovery - No Fees or Costs" are permissible.

    Read the full proposed Florida Bar advertising amendments here.

    While the proposal is under review, law firms are advised to adhere to the current rules while anticipating compliance with future requirements as well.

    Friday, July 01, 2011

    Social Media Marketing on July 4th Holiday

    Posts to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn may get more visibility this holiday weekend as the volume of user generated content takes a vacation also.

    Your well-written posts may get greater attention from those social media stalwarts who stay tuned regardless of the day of the year.

    Try to get double duty for your holiday posts by using them to start a discussion on Tuesday when your full audience is back online.

    Enjoy the Fourth! See you online.

    Saturday, June 18, 2011

    Business Development on the Links

    President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner played their long-awaited golf game today at Joint Base Andrews, as the U.S Open was also being held on the DC area Congressional Country Club.

    Camaradie is the main goal of a friendly golf game, and the same can be said of tennis. Golf puts the players in a beautiful outdoor setting, away from desk-bound troubles, and forces the foursome to focus on chasing a sometimes errant ball over 18 holes filled with sand traps, odd angles, and uneven surfaces.

    The personal interaction that plays out along with the game creates a common bond and closer communications. Golfers typically spend about 3 hours together; enough time to get to know the real player personalities as they face the good putts, mulligans, long drives, and rough spots.

    Lawyers can take note. Now that summer is in full swing, many attorneys will hit the links with prospects and clients for an afternoon away from the office.

    Deals do get done on the golf course, but even if they don't the game creates a warmer relationship that sets the stage for future opportunities. Golf is a great way to have some fun while creating business development opportunities. Every legal marketing budget should include some greens fees and fun.

    Tuesday, June 07, 2011

    Testimonials Move Forward with Florida Bar

    Proposed lawyer advertising rules that would allow some testimonials but also make all lawyer websites subject to those rules — except for requiring Bar review — have been approved by the Board of Governors, according to an article in the current issue of The Florida Bar News.

    "The board, at its May 27 meeting in Key West, approved a rewrite of the rules prepared by the Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics. The redrafted rules are scheduled to be submitted to the Supreme Court, which has the final say, by July 5.

    Committee Chair Carl Schwait said the amendments came in response to a Supreme Court order in 2007 when it acted on an earlier ad rules package. In drawing them up, the committee took into account U.S. Supreme Court rulings on lawyer advertising and free speech, other federal court rulings, Florida Supreme Court rulings on advertising, input from numerous attorneys, a Bar-sponsored survey on public attitudes about lawyer advertising, and suggestions from the Bar’s Citizens Forum."

    Read the full story titled, "Redrafted Advertising Rules on their way to the S. Court."

    Friday, May 27, 2011

    Client Ties Protect Senior Attorneys

    Senior statesmen in some law firms are at risk of being viewed as senior citizens, according to an article in the New York Times titled, Easing Out Those Gray-Haired Workers (or Not).

    Older partners are feeling the pressure to produce or retire, as law firms continue to struggle with maintaining profitability in a rapidly changing legal industry.

    The question of retirement age is not easy to answer in the legal profession, according to reporter Nelson D. Schwartz. "There is no mandatory retirement age for federal judges — one remains on the bench at 103 — and solo practitioners often work into their 70s and 80s. Senior partners at big law firms, on the other hand, frequently feel the heat much sooner."

    Billable hours is the best form of protection. Those attorneys who maintain strong client relationships and keep a steady flow of revenue coming into the firm will always be welcome at any age.

    As this @RainmakingLady always says, marketing is a process and not an event. Learn early how to keep the pipeline pumped with high quality leads and your partners will be begging you NOT to retire!

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    Affordable Attorney Marketing

    "I am a new attorney in the Northeast looking for a way to get clients. My practice areas are Bankruptcy and litigation. I understand the fundamentals of building a referral base and SEO and are implementing the same now, but those are long term strategies. What is a starving attorney to do in the meantime? This is where I hope you can help me."

    This is a question that came into my inbox this week, and it's a good one. "Affordable attorney marketing" is the quest when you open a new law practice, or need to rejuvenate an existing one.

    Here are a few ideas that come to mind:

    1. Join a lawyer referral network. Many local bar associations offer a referral network. While you won't get rich, you should start to get a few cases coming in. This can give you visibility in the courts and among your peers.

    2. Use LinkedIn to build your network and stay connected. Use the "Share an Update" feature from your LinkedIn home page to post an interesting item every 1-2 weeks. This will keep you "top of mind" with those you know.

    3. Test a small Google AdWords campaign. While this can be expensive, it is possible to set daily limits on your ad budget and focus on a small geographic area. Also, be sure to filter out terms that don't apply to you with the negative keywords feature.

    4. Start a blog. Demonstrate your knowledge in bankruptcy, litigaion, and other practice areas with an educational blog. WordPress or Blogger allow you to start a blog quickly and easily. Actually the set up is the easy part. Write at least 1-2 blog posts per week, focusing on practice area keywords and also relating stories to your geo area of coverage. Feed the blog posts through other social medial (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook) using a service like Hootsuite. Select a URL with important keywords to help get online recognition.

    5. Consider BNI or similar lead groups. This can help you to meet other professionals and get the word out about your legal services.

    Overall, have lots of business cards and network, network, network! Tell everyone you know what you do. Marketing to those you know is your best source of new business fast. Picking a niche for your practice can also help your marketing dollars work smartly.

    There are dozens of additional ideas in my legal marketing book, Courting Your Clients.

    Thursday, May 12, 2011

    Ben Glass Pledges "No Fee for Kids"

    No attorney fee will be charged if the case can be settled before a lawsuit is filed. That's at the heart of a new promotion by Fairfax VA personal injury attorney Ben Glass. “For car accident cases that settle without having to file a lawsuit, there is no attorney fee charged for any child who is 12 or under at the time of the accident,” Mr. Glass says. Case expenses will be passed on to the client.

    Mr. Glass, well known for his legal marketing strategies, has a website for the service at and a press release on the program.

    Why give away your law firm's services?

    1. Like a retailer's "loss leader," this offer is certainly intended to draw a lot of other paying clients.
    2. It is another form of pro bono, which is doing good to feel good.
    3. The program is drawing positive national headlines, which is good for the firm.
    4. Free services for kids (and Mr. Glass has 9 himself) can be used to soften the blow when attention is brought to higher fees on other cases.
    5. The geography is limited, so there are boundaries on how many clients will be accepted.

    Another consideration is that if a child under 12 is injured, there was also an adult present in many of those accidents. Perhaps the adult is also injured, and therefore a full fare prospect for the law firm.

    Monday, May 09, 2011

    Law Firm Losing Leads on a Wall Street Journal Ad

    Last week a well known national law firm (which shall go unnamed) placed a very attractive 1/4 page ad in the Wall Street Journal. The ad caught my attention, and I read the whole thing. But when I got to the bottom, my response was "NOW what?".

    If I were a prospect looking to purchase this type of legal service rather than a legal marketer, I would probably want to know who I should contact. Guess what? There was no phone number to call. There was no person to contact. The ad directed the reader to the firm's web page to sign up for newsletters!?

    Measuring Success in Law Firm Marketing

    I'm not sure how much an ad in the WSJ costs, but the price tag probably has a few $000 at the end. Every good law firm marketer, especially in today's economy, should be calculating the ROI on every campaign. This means you have to measure results, like the number of inquiries, number of calls, and new accounts opened. Without any metrics, this law firm is simply leaving money on the table.

    Five Ways to Turn an Ad into New Business

    Here are a few quick ideas on how this ad could have served as a lead generation pipeline straight to new business:
    1. Identify one attorney as a point of contact in the ad, along with their phone number. Make sure the phone number is covered 24/7 for 15-30 days after the ad runs. An answering service with live operators would be ideal for coverage after hours.  
    2. Direct readers to a special website landing page dedicated to that unique ad, to separate ad responders from normal web traffic.
    3. Offer a special report in the ad, available by postal mail or download, with an order form online.
    4. Invite interested ad readers to one or more webinars on the practice area covered in the ad.
    5. Offer a free audit. This law firm operates in a regulatory environment, so a free audit could prompt serious prospects with a good likelihood of turning into business.
    This firm missed a great opportunity to collect high value leads. Branding alone is no longer a sufficient reason to spend precious marketing and business development dollars.

    Friday, May 06, 2011

    Turbulence Ahead: Law Firms of the Future

    The legal market is undergoing signficant structural changes, as noted in an article in The Economist titled, Law Firms:  A Less Gilded Future. Here is an excerpt that captures the tone of this well written analysis:
    Ultimately, lawyering is becoming more of a business than a profession. Some lawyers decry this. Others welcome it. Few deny it. Because the American market cannot grow as it used to, firms will have to find new strategies and make use of sophisticated branding to stand out.
    Business development and client retention are at the heart of the new business model. Facing intense pressures to manage costs, firms and attorneys will need to act quickly to reformulate services and billable hour alternatives.

    Successful law firms are those that embrace rather than resist change. Infusing a business development atmosphere throughout the firm, from attorney training to compensation incentives, is essential to stay competitive and close to the market. Read the full story.

    Wednesday, May 04, 2011

    When to Start a New Law Firm

    There is no perfect time to start a new law firm, says Jay Shepherd in a post titled Small Firms, Big Lawyers: When Should You Start Your Own Firm?

    I agree with his point that it is best not to hang out your shingle right after law school unless you have no other opportunities. Business development is one crucial topic not taught in school. It is better to learn the ropes of both law firm operations and marketing from a more experienced set of attorneys.

    Mr. Shepherd says,
    So when is the best time to start your own firm? It depends on your practice area. My advice is that you should only hang your shingle after you’ve developed enough experience and expertise in your chosen field to be comfortable fielding any call from a prospective client. I’m not saying that you need to be a complete expert, or know all the answers off the top of your head. What I am saying is that you need to be at a point where you have a facility with your area of law that allows you to speak intelligently to the inquiring prospect, spot some of the main issues, and then be able to go off and research the answer to the question.
    Good advice.

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Reconnect with 2010 Leads

    Chances are you have a goldmine of new law firm prospects awaiting your call. I’m referring to the prospects you spoke with in 2010 who did not retain your firm at the time.

    These prospects could be people you met at networking events, referrals from other attorneys, or inbound leads generated by your Internet marketing efforts. Your best prospects are those who asked for information about your firm or a proposal, but ultimately did not sign an engagement letter.

    Frequently we don’t know why a proposal is not accepted. In the busy day-to-day cycle of court deadlines and current client demands, it is easy to lose sight of the hoped for clients who never materialized.

    Don’t Stop Selling Too Soon

    There are many valid reasons why a prospective client does not accept your proposal. Here are three possible reasons that your 2010 proposals did not result in engagements.

    1. The prospect did not hire any law firm.

    It’s not that you lost the business to a competitor, but that the prospect decided to defer the purchase entirely. If this is the case, they may be ready to take action now. A prospect you spoke with in detail during 2010 may be waiting for your call. What are you waiting for?
    2. They picked another vendor, but are not happy with the results.

    Of course your firm is the best in its field (and prices accordingly), but perhaps the prospect decided that due to budgetary concerns they had to hire a less expensive service provider. Now they realize that they are getting what they paid for, but they really need more legal firepower. A well timed inquiry may open the door to reconsideration of your services.

    3. The prospect thought they could do the work internally.
    Read the full story, Sales Prospecting in the Dead Leads file, on the National Law Review.

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    5 Attributes of Winning Lawyers

    High achievers in the legal field share common traits, according to an article by legal recruiter Frank Michael D'Amore in today's issue of The Legal Intelligencer. Here are the highlights.

    1. Winners are goal setters
    2. Winners are self-motivated
    3. Winners are strategic
    4. Winners are risk takers
    5. Winners are well networked

    Read the full story here.

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    The Beef is Over; Taco Bell Lawsuit Dropped

    The social media defensive tactics launched by Yum! Brands in response to a Beasley Allen lawsuit were apparently successful. The Wall Street Journal reports today that the case is dropped:
    "Taco Bell said the law firm that had filed suit against the Mexican fast-food chain, alleging its ground beef contained little beef, has withdrawn the litigation.

    Beasley Allen, an Alabama law firm, voluntarily withdrew its lawsuit with no money or other value being exchanged between the parties, Taco Bell said. The chain, which is a unit of Yum Brands Inc., also said it isn't making any changes to its products or advertising."
    The mighty consumer marketer (KFC and Pizza Hut, in addition to Taco Bell) took swift action at the time of the initial filing to respond with Facebook videos, free coupons, a press blitz, and print ads (see earlier post). It apparently worked.

    This Rainmaking Lady thinks we may be entering a new era where both plaintiff and defendant will duke it out in the court of public opinion. Social media marketing techniques make it relatively easy to build a buzz and gain critical mass quickly.

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    ROI on Legal Marketing

    Successful legal marketing campaigns generate more revenue than they cost. While this sound easy, analyzing campaign performance can involve tedious tracking of both new client intake and the cost of on-going lead generation and client retention programs.

    Here are some questions to ask when analyzing the results of your legal marketing campaigns:

    -- Are we targeting the right audience?
    -- Are there niche markets we should pursue?
    -- Are we targeting the right geography?
    -- Are we meeting our goals? If not, are we above or below budget?
    -- How can current campaigns be modified to improve results?
    -- What is our most effective lead generator?
    -- Should we increase/decrease campaign frequency?
    -- What is our cost of customer acquisition?
    -- What is our lifetime customer value?
    -- Are there campaigns we have not tried but should, like social media marketing?

    Law firm marketing is a business tool that, when used properly, will help you to reach the right audience at the right time with the right message.

    Marketing is also a process and not an event, meaning that successful marketing campaigns evolve over time to deliver the client mix best suited to your law firm. If your current business development efforts are not delivering results, it is time to revitalize your efforts!

    Need some help? The legal marketing book Courting Your Clients has dozens of business development ideas.

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    Law Firms that Never Had to Market

    Billable hours came easily to many law firms and lawyers prior to the great recession. I am working with or have spoken to many attorneys lately who did little to no legal marketing for 20 years. Up until 2009, that is.

    Now that the economy is picking up steam in 2011, these firms are realizing that the good old days are probably gone for good. Attracting qualified prospects now takes more than waiting for the phone to ring and doing some occasional networking.

    "Where do we start marketing?" is a commonly asked question. Here are 3 important steps to launching an effective legal marketing campaign.

    1. Define your business development goals. What kinds of business do you want and who do you want it from? Take note of what legal services people are buying in your practice area, and make sure you are offering a competitive package in terms of pricing and delivery. Create a written marketing plan (see below) to organize your business development efforts.

    2. Market to your current and past clients. It may be hard to believe, but chances are that your current clients do not know the full scope of your legal services. Communicate with your clients via phone calls, personal meetings, newsletters, and social media to remind them of your availability and offerings. Find out what clients need; if you can figure out a way to provide clients with solutions to their challenges, you will be a hero.

    3. Accelerate your referral networking. Dust off your rolodex, fire up your LinkedIn profile, and get to work making and renewing strategic connections. Write yourself a cheat sheet elevator pitch in advance, to stay focused. Tell your contacts specifically what type of work you seek, then make every effort to reciprocate when you do get referrals.

    Click here for a free 2011 Legal Marketing Plan to get a head start on expanding your law practice.  All of these business deveopment ideas are outlined in great detail in my legal marketing book, Courting Your Clients.

    Monday, March 28, 2011

    How to Build an Online Audience

    Attracting loyal followers is a challenge for law firms that are active Internet marketers and bloggers. Some ideas in today's Wall Street Journal offer insights as to how new consumer-oriented web shows and consumer marketers build a following, with useful analogies that can be applied to the legal marketing.

    Social media marketing suggestions to grow your base of followers includes:
    • Identify prominent social media users (in this case in the legal market) and try to make a connection with them in a way that will drive traffic to your website or blog. Perhaps an interview or a shared column might attract new visitors.
    • Set a regular schedule for your online blog posts or website updates, so that followers can anticipate and watch for your news.
    • Get the word out using your star players, in this case attorneys and staff members who know how to conduct online promotions professionally and in a manner compliant with attorney advertising guidelines. (Be careful not to run afoul of anti-solicitation rules.)
    Email is increasingly being viewed as an old "push" technnology, and is being replaced by social media techniques that naturally attract interested viewers to your material.

    Read the full Wall Street Journal article, "Building Loyalty on Web."

    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    Law Firm Strategic Planning

    What is the best way to start the strategic planning process in a law firm that does not have a history of strong planning at either a centralized or practice area level?

    This was the topic of a panel I moderated for a March 10, 2011 meeting of the Legal Marketing Association, South Florida City Group. Claudia Dobkin, Chief Marketing Officer of Akerman Senterfitt, and Maureen Berkowitz, Marketing Director for the Miami accounting firm Berkowitz Dick Pollack & Brant, were featured speakers.

    Here are some highlights of the session from the speakers and audience members:
    • Strong communications among participants are essential for the firm undertaking a new planning initiative. Clearly define market forces that are driving the need for more formalized planning.
    • Involve participants early and often to gain buy-in.
    • Take advantage of market research data on the "legal spend," meaning how much corporations and other clients are spending on legal services. Sources include BTI, Zeughauser Group, ALM, and ohthers.  
    • Put your plan in writing, and "cascade" the goals from the practice level to the practitioner.
    • Monitor performance for best results. Monthly, quarterly, and annual meetings are recommended.
    The role of the law firm Marketing Director is changing as firms become more proactive in the planning process, with business development techniques becoming particularly critical.

    Here is a sample 2011 legal marketing plan that your firm may find to be helpful.

    Friday, March 04, 2011

    How to Get Your Blog Into Overdrive

    Today's Bloggers Breakfast at the Broward County Bar Association was attended by about 35 South Florida attorneys who are serious about using Internet marketing techniques to attract qualified prospects.

    David Berkowitz, JD, president of web hosting firm Netprofession joined me as we talked about some free and easy ways to accelerate the performance of a blog. Thanks to Josh Collier for this photo:

    Attendees learned how to:

    - Get a blog ranked in the search engines
    - Discover Wordpress “plug-ins”
    - Reach out to prospects with timely blog posts
    - Analyze a blog’s traffic sources and keywords with Analytics software
    - Use social media to publicize a blog posts
    - Attract media attention by blogging about news stories

    Watch for more information on these topics.

    Monday, February 28, 2011

    Too Busy to Market? Never!

    Can you take a marketing break when the good times roll? Only if you are prepared to fall back into the abyss of waiting endlessly for the phone to ring.

    One of the lawyers I help with business development campaigns reports that she is so busy now in 2011 that she is not sure she could take any more work.

    This is certainly a nice problem to have, and as an experienced rainmaker she knows that it is not a good idea to take your eye off the business development pipeline and prospect list. So she continues her legal marketing efforts, although with a greater emphasis now on getting more business from existing clients.

    Here are some ideas you can use to keep the legal marketing initiatives working for you without having to break too much of a sweat:
    1. Keep a marketing calendar, and schedule your campaigns 3-6 months in advance
    2. Reach out to clients on a quarterly basis
    3. Post a quick news item to LinkedIn every 1-2 weeks. This is an easy way to stay in front of your network.
    4. Write 2-3 articles per year for publication. You can do this outside of normal office hours, and there are many long term marketing benefits.
    5. Schedule periodic lunches with your referral network members. You need to eat anyway, and it's a break from the routine.

    Even a heavy workload can change from one day to the next in the legal industry, as cases settle or client funding runs low.

    Marketing is a process and not an event. It can be simple, but should always be structured to maintain a steady forward momentum.

    Sunday, February 27, 2011

    Legal Industry Growth Factors Show a Down Side

    The Washington Post writes of Howrey today, "... just two years after reporting its most profitable year ever, the 55-year-old law firm now stands as a cautionary tale, its towering success all but undone by powerful forces transforming the legal establishment."

    The reporter observes: 
    The genteel days when a lawyer might begin and end a career at a single firm - and loyalties were forged with camaraderie and partnership - are largely over. Law firms in Washington and beyond have taken a page from their Wall Street counterparts, becoming as much a big business as the clients they represent.

    Lawyers are increasingly transient - loyal to their clients, not their firms. When they walk, they take the clients and leave the firm locked into obligations and real estate leases.
    Read the full story here.

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    Valentine's Day Ideas on Courting Your Clients

    Valentine’s Day serves as a legal marketing reminder that attentive service fosters success. While flowers, chocolates, and cards are typically intended for family and close friends, similar holiday concepts can also strengthen business relationships.

    Here are five ways the spirit of Courting Your Clients can reinforce the bond between attorneys and clients:

    1. Stay in touch. Regular client updates on the status of legal matters in process show the client that you care about them. Whether monthly or weekly, a “no surprises” policy helps to instill confidence and loyalty.

    2. Return phone calls promptly. Surprisingly, this remains a common complaint among clients. Responding to client calls is an easy way to maintain a competitive advantage.

    3. Meet periodically. A face-to-face meeting with priority clients that you don’t see often due to distance or scheduling conflicts can keep a relationship from going stale. Hold competitors at bay with an off-the-clock client get together; chances are you will walk away with new business.

    4. Show attentiveness. Send articles or news updates of interest to clients who you know are tracking a particular issue. It’s easy to monitor a topic with Google Alerts. You’ll demonstrate your understanding of client priorities, and may generate possible new solutions to a challenging situation.

    5. Remember holidays. Birthdays, major business events, or the opening of a favorite sporting season are all reasons to reach out to clients selectively, based on their preferences.

    Clients frequently report that they hire the attorney and not the firm. This was most recently noted in a February 8, 2011 Wall Street Journal article, which reads in part:

    Clients generally care more about which lawyer, and not which firm, will be handling their affairs, driving up the value of those lawyers who command loyal client followings. Stars are particularly sought these days, lawyers said, partly because their rates are less apt to meet client resistance.
    Obviously legal expertise and competency are assumed skills in any high profile matter, but the personal touch can make a winning difference when it comes to client retention and referrals.

    Happy Valentine’s Day!

    Read more about our Courting Your Clients legal marketing methodology.

    Wednesday, February 09, 2011

    Taco Bell Class Action Lawsuit Meets Social Media Defense

    The Facebook "Like" button is one of many social media and Internet marketing tools being used by Taco Bell® Corp., a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc., in response to the recent lawsuit by Beasley Allen.

    Now playing in the court of public opinion, Taco Bell has launched an immediate and impressive crisis communications defense. A February 8th press release is headlined, "Taco Bell® Announces World's Largest Taco Giveaway on Facebook; Company Thanks Fans for Their Support With Goal of Rewarding 10 Million Free Tacos To Its Facebook Community."

    The offer of a free Crunchy Seasoned Beef Taco is only available to Facebook members who "Like" the Taco Bell page, allowing each fan access to print the coupon.

    Other offline and online marketing elements of this campaign include:

    - Full page print ads in leading newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and USA Today.

    - Google AdWords text ads featuring top of page placement and offering the "Official Statement from the Company" with "Facts from the Taco Bell President."

    - A corporate video response featuring Greg Creed, Taco Bell President. The video is a primary feature of the landing page that starts the Google visitor on a path to read all about the company response.

    - Easy access to Taco Bell media relations professionals.

    What all this means to the case remains to be seen, but Taco Bell appears to be increasing consumer loyalty in the face of adversity. With social media defense tools strengthening, plaintiff side class action firms need to be even more proactive. Whatever the outcome, Taco Bell is scoring lots of points with their campaign.

    Friday, February 04, 2011

    Social Media Posts by a 3rd Party: FL Bar Rules

    Ethics in Blogging was the topic of a presentation I made this morning at the Broward County Bar Association, with co-presenter Alan Anthony Pascal, Esq. of The Florida Bar.

    Posts to a lawyer's social media page by a third party was one of the topics we covered. Below please find some highlights from the Florida Bar Guidelines for Networking Sites, which applies to Florida attorneys as well as lawyers from other states who are soliciting business in Florida.

    Third Party Posts

    "Although lawyers are responsible for all content that the lawyers post on their own pages, a lawyer is not responsible for information posted on the lawyer’s page by a third party, unless the lawyer prompts the third party to post the information or the lawyer uses the third party to circumvent the lawyer advertising rules."

    Removal of Non-Compliant Information from a Lawyer's Page

    "If a third party posts information on the lawyer’s page about the lawyer’s services that does not comply with the lawyer advertising rules, the lawyer must remove the information from the lawyer’s page."

    Request for Removal of Info on a Page Not Controlled by the Attorney

    "If the lawyer becomes aware that a third party has posted information about the lawyer’s services on a page not controlled by the lawyer that does not comply with the lawyer advertising rules, the lawyer should ask the third party to remove the non-complying information. In such a situation, however, the lawyer is not responsible if the third party does not comply with the lawyer’s request."

    Lawyer Social Media Pages are Exempt from Filing

    "Finally, the Standing Committee on Advertising is of the opinion that a page on a networking site is sufficiently similar to a website of a lawyer or law firm that pages on networking sites are not required to be filed with The Florida Bar for review."

    Page references in these guidelines can include a LinkedIn profile, a blog comment, Twitter profile, Facebook page, etc.

    Read the Florida Bar Guidelines for Networking Sites here.

    Tuesday, February 01, 2011

    CLIENT Rainmaking with a Legal Marketing Plan

    Law firm marketing without a plan is like driving to a new and distant destination without a roadmap. You are sure to get lost! Creating an integrated attorney marketing plan is one of the first steps covered in the book Courting Your Clients.

    CLIENT RainmakingTM is actually an acronym, where the "C" represents creation of a clearly written integrated business development plan. Here are all the steps in the process:

    C Create a customized business development program
    L Launch your initial business development campaigns
    I Inspect the results of your campaigns
    E Educate your audience on legal solutions
    N Nurture the leads you develop with prospective clients
    T Team with your new clients to build trust

    Your marketing plan should contain strategic goals expressed as the number of new accounts you want to establish and associated revenue. Marketing techniques like building a strong referral network, marketing to current clients, speaking and publishing will help you create campaigns to generate high quality new prospects.

    You may ask what it means to have an "integrated" marketing program. Simply described, it means promoting your firm simultaneously across multiple marketing channels. Law firms integrate their marketing programs by focusing on a narrowly defined competitive message and positioning statement, then communicating that message consistently across all business development efforts. You need to determine the right blend of marketing tactics for your firm, based on your message and market.

    Purchasers of legal services operate in a fast-paced environment today and are often bewildered by their options when it comes to retaining an attorney. Your integrated marketing program should reach your prospective audience: 1) in the places they are looking; and 2) when they are ready to retain legal services. This will give you a better chance of winning a new account.

    Visit this page for a sample of a 2011 attorney marketing plan.

    Contact Margaret Grisdela to discuss marketing ideas for your law firm.

    (c) Legal Expert Connections, Inc.

    Thursday, January 27, 2011

    5 Ways to Focus a Law Firm Marketing Strategy

    Clearly targeting law firm clients is one of the key concepts of the Courting Your Clients legal marketing methodology. You will lower marketing costs, increase response rates, and build greater brand visibility with a narrowly defined market niche. Here are 5 ways to focus your law firm marketing strategy:

    1. Geographically. The majority of small to mid-sized law firms simply focus on developing new business located within a 50 to 100 mile radius of an office location. Proximity gives you the benefit of convenient face-to-face meeting opportunities, personal networking, and strong local referral sources.

    2. Demographically. Attorneys who serve a consumer audience in particular (like family law, trusts and estates, or immigration) can focus on known characteristics such as marital status, income, the presence of children, and/or zip codes.

    3. By Industry. Lawyers who serve a business clientele are likely to target specific industries that are well suited to their practice. Examples include intellectual property attorneys who work in the entertainment field, municipal lawyers who serve county officials, or corporate law firms who favor technology companies.

    4. By Job Title. A purchasing agent or key decision maker focus - like the HR Director for labor & employment lawyers or the General Counsel for corporate attorneys  - ensures that you target your business development efforts on the person who can sign your engagement letter and check.

    5. By Trigger Events. Transactional attorneys need to find clients with a highly defined need. This could be a personal injury attorney looking for car accident victims, or a corporate lawyer who helps business owners with mergers and acquisitions.

    Marketing campaigns will be determined by the focus you bring to your law firm. Of course, there may be multiple parameters that are relevant to your marketing definition, like HR Directors within retail companies located in a specific metropolitan area.

    Focus not only helps you to invest your marketing budget wisely, but it also enables attorneys and staff to refine their personal business development efforts in a way that aligns with the firm's strategy.

    Contact us to discuss the best strategic focus for your own law firm practice.

    Saturday, January 22, 2011

    Article Marketing for Lawyers

    Publishing an article online is just the first step in a legal marketing campaign focused on the article topic. There are many ways to drive readers to your article, including:

    1. Post an excerpt from the article on your blog, with a link to the full article

    2. Add your article to your LinkedIn profile

    3. Promote the article in an enewsletter

    4. Add social media share buttons to your article page, if possible

    5. Tweet about the article, including a link

    Article marketing can be a very effective way for lawyers and other professionals to attract qualified prospects.

    My suggestions are from a LinkedIn discussion, originated by Social Media Marketing Group Leader Michael Cohn.

    Thursday, January 20, 2011

    Legal Marketing in Israel: New Business, Old Habits

    This Guest Column is written by Adv. Zohar Fisher

    Israel was always a strategic point in the globe, featuring wealthy individuals, innovative high-tech and bio-tech ideas and companies, agricultural solutions, and significant spirit and success in the global economy.

    In this environment, the words 'marketing', 'branding' and 'Business Development' sounds like sweet music to the ears of every CEO and CFO, showing him that the wheels of the company he manages continue to turn.

    However, there is one professional sector in Israel for which—despite the huge number of its members and intense competition—the words 'marketing' or, heaven forbid, 'branding' are unheard of terms.

    The sector implied, is the Israeli legal sector. Israel today has close to 50,000(!) lawyers, which brings the country to Guinness World Record for the highest ratio between the number of attorneys and the population (one lawyer per 163 citizens).

    During recent years and under pressure by many Israeli lawyers, the Israel Bar Association is starting to allow the usage of marketing and advertising tools, such as active advertising, purchasing Google Adwords, expanding websites and so on. Until recent years, these activities contradicted the Israel Bar Association ethics.

    The fear for the ethics and morals of the profession continues to disturb the sleep of various committees at the Bar Association, but they could not predict the meteoric leap of the number of attorneys in Israel and the domination of the Internet and social networks on our lives.

    In 1948, when Israel was founded, there were about 800 active attorneys. In 1990 the number of lawyers was 7,000, and today, the incomprehensible number is close to 50,000. Attorneys with 15 years experience are about 23% of active lawyers in Israel, while attorneys with less that 15 years experience, constitute about 77% of all active lawyers. With this number, and the tremendous competition on each client, Legal Marketing was forced to rise in Israel.

    The Legal Marketing arena in Israel is in its initial stages. Many of Israel's law firms are turning into legal marketing professionals in order to use the new motivation and ammunition shaking the legal sector- websites, advertisement, cross selling, conferences, legal guides, contributing articles and so on, or in other words- at last, creating marketing efforts in this business sector.

    In this environment, Robus was founded. We are Israel's first legal marketing company, specializing in providing strategic advice and business development solutions. We welcome you to feel the pulse of Israel's rising economy, and see the knots we might tie with regard to business and legal cooperation. New business - old habits.

    About the Author: Adv. Zohar Fisher is the CEO of Robus, Israel's first Legal Marketing Company.

    Monday, January 17, 2011

    Diversity in Law Firm Marketing: 5 Biz Dev Tips

    As we celebrate the Martin Luther King holiday, it is an appropriate time to consider the role of diversity in legal marketing.

    Creating a distinct law firm brand in today's competitive legal market is challenging, but diversity practices provide an opportunity to stand apart from the crowd. Here are five simple ways a law firm can integrate their diverse talent into business development:

    1. Consider joining the National Association of Minority & Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF), if appropriate. NAMWOLF encourages major corporations and public entities to utilize the services of minority and women-owned law firms.

    2. Encourage minority partners and associates to tap into natural affinity groups like the National Association of Business Owners or the National Hispanic Medical Association.

    3. Broaden your firm's reach with articles published in magazines or newsletters targeted to minority business or consumer groups that are aligned with your law practice.

    4. Feature photos of diverse client teams in law firm brochures and newsletters.

    5. Take a leadership role in civic and charitable organizations that support the development of minority communities represented by your diverse staff members.

    If you fear that budget cuts may cause you to curtail your law firm's diversity initiatives, the ABA article titled
    "Law firm diversity planning on a shoestring budget" may be helpful. Here is one excerpt:

    Overall, diversity planning does not have to involve a significant financial contribution. Instead, it requires a solid commitment. “In the 21st century, the legal profession faces no greater challenge than the imperative to advance diversity throughout our ranks. It is incumbent upon each one of us to do something that will make a real difference,” said Oregon Court of Appeals Judge Ellen F. Rosenblum, chair of the ABA Presidential Commission on Diversity, one of several association entities involved in the diversity report.
    Also, here is a link to the ABA 2009-2010 Report on Diversity in the Legal Profession.

    Monday, January 03, 2011

    #1 Way to Get More Law Firm Revenue in 2011

    Marketing to your current clients is the absolute best way to generate profitable new revenue quickly. Your clients already know and trust you, so it is easy for them to say “yes” to more services.

    This article, based on the Courting Your Clients legal marketing methodology outlined in the book by the same name, outlines five legal marketing campaigns that will help you with connect with current and past clients.

    1. Write a New Year’s Client Letter

    Now that the New Year is here, clients are getting ready to implement their 2011 plans. This could include hiring new employees, launching new products, opening a new office, or entering a new joint venture with an international partner. January is a natural time for you to reach out to clients with a written letter that helps them prepare for new compliance requirements or other legal challenges.

    2. Send an E-Newsletter

    If you have a large client list (or a small support staff), the work and cost associated with a direct mail campaign can be daunting. Consider sending your New Year’s letter via email, using a service like Constant Contact. Structure your newsletter as 3-4 informative paragraphs and add links to more information on your website. Never send an attachment your e-newsletter, since it may get lost in the spam filter.

    3. Take Your Clients to Lunch

    A face-to-face meeting with your best clients and prospects off the clock is always appreciated. Take the time to listen to the challenges your client needs to address in 2011, and offer solutions that will help them achieve their goals.

    4. Schedule a Planning Meeting

    A lunch tends to be informal and somewhat social, but you might also have clients who have need for a more in-depth account assessment. Perhaps they are new and you are still learning to work with them. Or you might suspect there is a risk that the client may put your account out for bid. Whatever the case, suggest to carefully selected accounts that you come in to their office for a 1-2 hour strategic planning session. You can review their 2010 accomplishments, identify their 2011 priorities, and talk about a schedule and program of services that best meets their needs.

    5. Ask for a Referral

    As you reach out to clients and prospects in January, ask those who are not currently in need of more legal services to suggest others who might be. This could come in the form of family members, friends, co-workers, or business associates. When you do get a referral, always remember to send a thank you note.

    Marketing to current clients is just one of many ways you can get more business in 2011. Download a free 2011 attorney marketing plan and learn about the Courting Your Clients legal marketing methodology here.