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THE MAGAZINE      May/June 2002
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The New World of Law Practice Marketing

Larry Bodine

Perfect pitch. The best place to find new matters is among current clients. So L.A. lawyer Debra L. Fischer launched a cross-selling initiative at her firm, McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen. The firm analyzed its top 150 clients over the prior 18 months, revealing gaps in service. Billing partners then identified specific cross-selling opportunities and met with practice group leaders to put opportunity into action. Also, the firm chair sent a welcome letter to all new clients, enlightening them about the firm’s practices. And to assist partners in making new-business presentations, the firm collected prior proposals, entered them into a database and developed a "Client Pitch Action Plan." To pump things up, partners receive nominal monetary incentives for introducing clients to other partners. Fischer garnered a Marketing Partner of the Year award from the Marketing Partner Forum in early 2002.

It’s hip to be square. Parlee McLaws, a 100-lawyer firm in Alberta, Canada, leverages the positive connotations of the four-sided figure for its new marketing image. Its logo, its brochure and the lawyer photos on its Web site (www.parlee .com) are all square. As managing partners Dick Haldane and Lindsay Holmes wrote in a letter to clients, the square "connotes strength, stability, durability, honesty and integrity." Think of squared away, squared up and town square, words that convey satisfaction, settlement and a business center—and words that the firm is employing in its marketing. The approach shows that unique messages can still be simple and, well, square.

The Picture Tells a Great Story. All too often law firm ads are boring, setting forth practice specialties in a long trail of running text. But Clausen Miller blazes a different trail in the ad for its mold law practice, above, which features a graphic of a cleaning spray bottle. At first glance, you’d expect the label to read "Windex" or "Formula 401," but instead it reads "Clausen Miller—Zaps Mold on Contact." The entirety plays out like a genuine product ad, while cleverly conveying the firm’s expertise: "Call the law firm that knows its stachybotrys from its penicillium." This firm know its advertising, too.

Telling tales. Which is more effective in a firm newsletter? Articles recounting where your lawyers went to school and where they concentrate their practices? Or stories telling about the good results you’ve obtained for clients? The second approach is immediately engaging and better marketing by far. Here’s an example from the newsletter of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard of Waukegan, IL (www.salvilaw.com). The lead item starts: "In May, Michael Schostok and Patrick Salvi obtained a $13.3 million verdict from a Cook County jury for a four-year old Algonquin boy who suffered injuries to his left shoulder and arm at the time of his birth. This verdict is the largest in Illinois history for an injury of this type." If you’re a potential client, you’ll want to read on to learn if these lawyers can get a similar victory for you.

Larry Bodine (lbodine@lawmarketing.com) is a Web and Marketing Consultant who advises law firms on how to get more business. Based in Glen Ellyn, IL, he can be reached at (630) 942-0977.