March/April 2019

Editor's Note

Gaining a Marketing Mentality

Heidi A. Barcus

I always knew that marketing was important to succeed, but I just couldn’t find the time. As a solo practitioner, I found that the everyday obligations of practicing took up all of my time. As a firm member, the work was guaranteed, and I pushed marketing even further down my list.

The Law Practice Division (LP) is the best resource for lawyers who want to develop their marketing skills. Only after joining LP, and actively participating in its meetings, did I understand how crucial developing my own client base was. There’s nothing like having clients who want you to be their lawyer and who look directly to you for advice and counsel. The relationships you forge will sustain you. The client who seeks you out will respect you more than any client assigned to you by your partners. You will also experience the awesome responsibility of achieving the best outcome you can for a real person instead of for career advancement.

I wish I’d started developing my practice 10 years earlier. The truth is, I didn’t start marketing myself until I met with a senior executive who was performing my year-end review. During that meeting this executive told me that she believed in me and that one day I would have my own client base. I didn’t believe her. No one had ever told me that I could be a rainmaker. It seemed an impossible goal.

But something shifted during that meeting, and I began to make small changes. For the first time I started developing a marketing mindset. I started to understand that every deposition and court appearance was a marketing opportunity. I don’t mean that I handed out cards and bragged about my skills. What I did differently was understand that every appearance was a job interview. I came prepared even if I wasn’t the lead attorney. I didn’t call around in advance to make sure I didn’t have to be the first questioner. Instead I prepared as if I was first up. Slowly, over time, other clients and lawyers started to remember my name.

I also began to look for opportunities to speak and write. I began to join local nonprofit boards where I was likely to encounter the kind of clients I wanted. I developed a marketing plan and set yearly goals. I picked the brains of LP members and implemented their advice. I can’t imagine what I’d have accomplished if I’d started this approach years earlier.

My fervent wish is that every lawyer—solo, large firm, introvert, extrovert, etc.—would begin to think of marketing as the key to their success.

This Marketing issue begins with Thomas Martin’s discussion of using recent technological advances to help attorney self-promotion in “Marketing Automation for Lawyers.” Megan Zavieh then argues that the Model Rules and other state ethics decisions on advertising are too complicated and are stifling the flow of information about lawyers to the public in “The Ethics Rules Are Undermining Our Future.” In “Making Mist Today So You Can Make It Rain Tomorrow,” Tea Hoffman advises Millennial lawyers about how they need to commence career development activities early in their careers so they can eventually become rainmakers. Larry Bodine chips in with “Law Firm Networks Compete with the Biggest Players,” in which he describes how independent firms can act as a unified group to contend with ColossalLaw firms. Ian Hu then introduces us to “Effectively Using Social Media with Hashtags.” Finally, Mike Ramsey similarly discusses online advertising in “Using Google My Business and Ranking in Local Searches.”

I would also like to thank Maureen Mulligan for contributing the Highlights column. And I’ll take this time to introduce you to Heidi Alexander, who will now be contributing to the Product Watch column, along with Dan Siegel. I also thank Debbie Foster as she steps down from that column.


Heidi A. Barcus, Editor-in-Chief

Thanks to our Issue Team: Jeanne Picht, Thomas Shumate, and Patrick Wright

Heidi A. Barcus

Heidi A. Barcus is a partner with London Amburn, P.C. in Knoxville, Tennessee. She is a past president of the Knoxville Bar Association and certified by the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys. Email her.