On March 23, 2017, the Solo and Small Firm Committee held a regional meeting in St. Louis, Missouri. At the meeting, attorney Joan Swartz presented on how to effectively market yourself as an attorney. While her advice was aimed at solo and small firm attorneys, it applies equally to all attorneys no matter what the practice size—and notably, most of her advice can be implemented without a large marketing budget. Here are her top tips:
- Don’t sit in your office all day. Get out and meet people. Sitting in your office may help you hone your legal skills, but you need to share that knowledge with others, including potential clients and colleagues. Join bar associations and attend events. Even if you don’t get case referrals at first, over time you’ll build relationships with other attorneys that will build a mutual referral network. Take advantage of appointments to leadership positions in organizations. And don’t be afraid to invite colleagues and friends to lunches and/or events.
- Have a brand. If you are involved in a firm, you likely already have a logo. But if not, develop a logo that represents who you are—and use it consistently on stationery and other materials that leave your office so others will think of you when they see it.
- Launch a website or online resume. Websites may not bring in business, but clients or referrals use websites or online sources of information to check your background and experience. Accordingly, always make sure your information is up-to-date on LinkedIn and other biographical websites.
- Refer to friends. If someone brings you a case that isn’t in your area of expertise, refer it to a friend. The client will appreciate the fact that you put him or her in good hands, and will likely think of you again in the future. The friend will also likely return the referral favor to you.
- Create a niche or expertise. This can be your area of practice—or it could be an area of interest that you hope will develop in to an area of practice. Use every opportunity to write about it and speak on it so others will associate you with your knowledge.
- Use manners. This may seem basic—but you should never forget it. Send thank-you notes to your referrals. Keep in touch with friends and colleagues. Remember them at the holidays and other important times of the year. Don’t wait until you need something to reach out. If you take the time to build relationships with your friends and colleagues, you will develop a network of people who are invested in your best interest.
As Ms. Swartz told the audience, “in marketing, you have to be willing to give more than you will get.” But if you are willing to give, you will reap the rewards on so many levels.