Marketing for lawyers can be a touchy topic.
When I began private practice 11 years ago, I had the mindset that if I was the best in my industry and worked the hardest, clients would find me. Referrals do come, but Google is king in helping me to connect with people who need my help.
There are many strategies and decision points about how to connect with a firm’s ideal client. We say “no” to client or their cases almost as often as we say “yes”. That’s because our core values align with helping people who can benefit from our advice and representation.
Is the practice of law ultimately a business? Absolutely. At least if you want to be able to find people who are able and willing to pay for your help. That does not make us slimy or sleazy or unscrupulous.
It was not so long ago that attorney advertising / marketing violated the professional rules of conduct that governs attorney ethics. When I was in law school, it was a pretty new concept for the State of Louisiana to allow for any marketing. But honestly, the only people who rules against advertising benefited were the old, white man law firms. I said what I said. Only those “established” firms were top of mind for people in need of attorneys. Prohibiting marketing kept younger and not ‘established’ lawyers from becoming known or established. Those young attorneys were bound to a system of becoming associates at large mill firms, fighting their way up the internal big firm ladder, to hope to make partner.
Permitting attorneys to operate as business owners permits clients in need to find more diverse lawyers and those with an entrepreneurial spirit who are unwilling to become burdened in the proverbial partnership “track.”
Are there folks out there who operate their marketing strategies in an unscrupulous way? Sure. Are there marketers who use methods that are supposed to be banned in search of cheating the algorithm? You bet. I would say there are cheaters in every industry. That doesn’t mean as attorneys we should not find a way to leverage mechanisms to find people to help.
A mindset that enabling attorneys to reach more clients is automatically shameful is very short-sided.
The marketing methods that people use are as different as attorneys themselves. Some are aggressive, some are not. Some are middle of the road. There is no one size fits all, although some of the more “mill” marketing firms may try. People may not like aggressive strategies. They aren’t for everyone. And that might be an indicator to go a different direction for the lawyer.
When I began in business in 2012, I did not expect to enjoy the business side of a practice, but I have. I see marketing as another medium for advocacy. I want people to know me before they ever meet me. And the best way for me to accomplish that is to showcase my ideals, work ethic, and my WHY in the marketing that they see. Who I am must be authentically showcased in my marketing. I write every word that appears on my website. My blogs are my voice. My videos are me and my team, not actors.
I started out as a solo practitioner in 2012, and I have come a long way from answering (all of my) own calls and the do-it-yourself-kit for my website.
Fundamentally, I am proud of the strategies that I employ to grow my business, and I partner with people who mirror my values. I won’t let historical visions of marketing cloud my desire to help service members who need us. After all, it is a business. For Military Justice.
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