As an associate with a mid-sized firm in the 1990s, I struggled with finding the best way to develop business and market my practice. On asking one of the senior partners there—one of the best litigators I will ever know—about the value of networking, branding and business development, he said to me: “The best and only marketing you need is simply to do good work. The clients will follow.” He was absolutely right: being a good lawyer should lead to good business. At one time, that may have been all you needed for a successful marketing plan.
I don’t think that’s true anymore—technology has leveled the playing field between small and big firms, and it’s increasingly difficult to differentiate yourself from other lawyers in your field. It used to be a relatively simple matter to manage your reputation as a lawyer among your network of colleagues; now, the “always on” Internet means that anyone can post information about you, bad or good, without you being any the wiser.
That’s why keeping up with the latest in marketing techniques can give you and your firm an advantage when competing in a bigger pool of lawyers for what may be the same amount of work. If you are reading this column while attending the Third ABA Law Firm Marketing Strategies Conference, taking place November 8-9, 2011 in Philadelphia, then welcome! You are already taking advantage of the tremendous resources offered by the ABA Law Practice Management Section for ethically and successfully marketing your practice. Attendees will learn about calculating the return on investment for business development spending, the power of video in lawyer marketing, and how law firm associates can create a business development plan, among other topics. The two-day conference delivers the wisdom of lawyers who walk the walk, and it’s sure to be a great event.
Even if you’re not in attendance, this issue of Law Practice has got you covered. You’ll find articles here on many of the same subjects being discussed at the conference, including the power of emotion in marketing, dealing with bad Web rankings and an in-house perspective on how to get a company’s business. Then, consider joining us for our next ABA Marketing Strategies Conference in 2013!
In keeping with my last column, I offer two challenges to our readers. If you are attending the conference, please take the time to 1.) come say hi to me or other LPM actives, so you can learn more about how Law Practice Management can help you with the business of practicing law and 2.) talk to your fellow attendees; you are all there for the same reason, and you might learn as much from each other as you do from the speakers.
For everyone else, a very simple challenge: Take one article from this issue and implement one thing from it. Develop a plan for measuring your firm’s marketing return on investment; make a promotional video about your firm; or just visit and bookmark some of the great marketing resources provided by our members. Whatever you do, you’ve got a great opportunity to expand your understanding of legal marketing.