Monday, June 16, 2014

Visit the New Legal Expert Connections Blog

As of June 15, 2014, we are pleased to invite readers to view our newly enhanced online presence.

Our legal marketing website is at:

The Rainmaking Club blog is now located at:

A post published today is:
LinkedIn Profiles Gain Significance

You can reach Margaret Grisdela at 866-417-7025. Thanks for your interest.

Monday, April 28, 2014

When Law Firm Referrals Stop

Referrals are the lifeblood of business development programs for law firms around the country. Whether they come from a non-competing attorney, a friendly accountant, or an existing client, a referral is golden.

The bankruptcy boutique law firm of Stutman Treister & Glatt found out the hard way what happens when referrals stop coming in the door. In a Wall Street Journal article today titled, "Bankruptcy Specialist Folds," shareholder Robert Greenfield is quoted as saying,
We used to get referrals from all the major firms in L.A. The bigger firms decided to do their own bankruptcy work, so the referrals were slowing down.
As a result, the 25-attorney law firm is shutting its doors after 60 years in business.

Clearly several other factors are at play here, not the least of which is a significant decline in bankruptcy cases. The firm also appeared to lack any significant diversification in practice areas that might cushion the downturn.

It is worth noting, however, that referrals are only one piece of the business development equation for law firms. Other lead generation techniques include:
  • Pick a niche. Targeting a very specific segment of the market, in a level of detail that enables you to compile a list of anywhere from 100 to 500 prospects by name, brings focus to networking efforts.
  • Market to current and past clients. Clients represent the best source of business in the short run, and can also provide another source of referrals. A quarterly "client alert" helps a law firm maintain a continuous presence with past clients.
  • Establish a Marketing Committee. Survival requires continuous growth, and a law firm marketing committee can take the lead in planning for future business development campaigns and strategies.
Law firms are also well served to closely monitor the competitive environment. When an increasing number of firms start to encroach on a firm's territory or expertise, it is time to take decisive action. Options include a merger with a more diversified law firm, or branching out into related areas of practice.

Get Ideas for Your Legal Marketing Campaign

Contact law firm marketing consultant Margaret Grisdela at 1-866-417-7025 to discuss the legal marketing strategies that work best for your law firm. Click on the link to connect with her on LinkedIn.

Remember, marketing is a process and not an event! Have fun. 

Monday, April 07, 2014

How to Restart a Legal Marketing Campaign

Guilty is not only a jury verdict. It is how I feel, as a legal marketing consultant who has let blog posts and other marketing initiatives slide in a recent rush of client work.

Of course, it is good to be busy. But a marketer with no marketing does not set a good example. Mea culpa!

The pressure to start or re-start a business development is enough to drive one to procrastination. Common questions confront the campaign sponsor, like where to start, what to promote, and how to reach the right audience.

If you also are facing the daunting task of launching a new legal marketing program, here are three basic strategies that may be helpful.

Legal Marketing Strategy #1: Pick a Niche

Trying to be a “jack of all trades, master of none” is risky business in today’s legal market. Consider instead concentrating on two to three carefully selected target markets. This approach can help the motivated lawyer to build a reputation within a promising industry. As an attorney writes and speaks on particular topics, they can become known as a thought leader in their field.

Specialization also serves as a defensive career strategy. Gaining in-depth knowledge in specific areas of the law will help to minimize the risk of providing poor service in an unfamiliar practice area.

Niche markets we have selected at Legal Expert Connections, for example, include insurance defense marketing, employment law defense marketing, and content marketing. We also serve as an outsourced legal marketing department for small- to mid-sized law firms that do not have an in-house marketing department.

Picking a niche will help you to evaluate potential clients, save time by streamlining the proposal process, and deliver better quality legal services.

Legal Marketing Strategy #2: Educate Rather Than Sell

Educating your audience is best accomplished through speaking, writing, press coverage, newsletters, and client alerts. When you offer true value to prospective clients in the form of legal insight, you create an attraction that pulls your audience to you and invites natural business development.

Encourage prospects to step forward by emphasizing in all your educational materials that each client’s situation is unique. Encourage the prospect to contact you via email or a phone call to talk about how you might be of service to them.

Legal Marketing Strategy #3: 
Create a Structure to Maintain Your Marketing Effort

As I know first-hand, it is very hard to maintain an active marketing program when you are busy. The challenge is to create a process that will keep the marketing initiative moving forward.

One effective way to do this is to establish a law firm marketing committee that meets on at least a monthly basis. When multiple committee members share joint responsibility for business development results, there is a greater likelihood that the effort can be sustained.

Involve non-lawyers in the process also, so that some contributors are less susceptible to the conflicting demands of court and client deadlines. Many times an office manager takes on the role of coordinating marketing campaigns.

At outside marketing agency can also help to keep the firm’s marketing efforts moving forward, particularly if they offer the ability to create content, compile a list of targeted prospects, and package educational content into attractive graphic designs.

Get Ideas for Your Legal Marketing Campaign

Contact law firm marketing consultant Margaret Grisdela at 1-866-417-7025 to discuss the legal marketing strategies that work best for your law firm. Click on the link to connect with her on LinkedIn.

Remember, marketing is a process and not an event! Have fun.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Florida Personal Injury Law Firm Sues The Florida Bar over Attorney Advertising Rules

New Florida attorney advertising guidelines that took effect on May 1, 2013 violate the First Amendment and are unconstitutionally vague, according to allegations made in a federal lawsuit by the personal injury law firm of Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, PA, based in West Palm Beach.

Florida maintains some of the strictest advertising guidelines in the country, and also requires that most marketing communications be filed with The Florida Bar (at $150 per submission) for approval prior to use. Websites and press releases must comply with the rules, but are not subject to the filing requirements.

The new Florida rules apply to legal marketing communications across all media, including newspapers, magazines, brochures, flyers, television, radio, direct mail, electronic mail, Internet banners, pop-ups, websites, social networking, and video sharing sites.

The attorney advertising rules apply to all Florida Bar members, as well as out-of-state lawyers who advertise that they provide legal services in Florida. (Out-of-state attorneys can only advertise services in Florida that are governed by federal law, like immigration, patent law, tax law, etc.)

The Searcy case questions many aspects of the new rules, including the following requirements:
  • Statements regarding quality and past results must be “objectively verifiable”
  • The definition of “pertinent information” that must be included in an ad
  • Restrictions on the use of terms relating to an “expert” unless an attorney is board certified
  • LinkedIn practices that are beyond the control of a law firm
A lawsuit over the new rules was inevitable, of course. It is easy to understand why a personal injury firm is taking the lead, given their need for aggressive marketing campaigns. The five named partners who brought the suit are all Board Certified in civil litigation by The Florida Bar.

The firm went through normal channels in requesting clarification of the rules through several rounds of correspondence with the Bar’s Ethics and Advertising Department, and received two opinion letters (dated May 7 and 17, 2013). The guidance received was not satisfactory to the firm, however, which then filed an appeal with the Standing Committee on Advertising prior to bring suit.

There are many interesting angles to this case, and we will address several of them in subsequent posts.

The case reference is Searcy et al. v. The Florida Bar et al., 4:13-cv-00664-RH-CAS, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida on December 11, 2013.

Click on the link for The Florida Bar Attorney Advertising Rules. The entire Handbook weighs in at 120 pages (and is curiously not available as of the time of this writing).