Friday, December 5, 2014

All Lawyers Are in Sales: Attorney marketing is competitive just like the courtroom

Lawyers sell themselves to potential law employers to be hired.

Lawyers sell themselves to potential clients to be hired.

Lawyers sell their case strengths and settlement positions to adverse counsel to resolve cases.

Lawyers sell their legal arguments to judges to win motions.

Lawyers sell their cases to juries to win trials.

The old guard attorneys that have been retiring from practice over the last decade often see attorney marketing as shameful. However, they never needed to do it due to a high demand for lawyers and a low supply of lawyers when they started practicing. In otherwords, they were the only show in town when they made their mark.

Modern law practice is very competetive and requires sophisticated analysis of marketing trends.  The sales terms of "leads," "prospects," and "conversions" have become part of attorney vernacular.

While the traditional "low information" client back in the old guard days was impressed by fancy office furnishings, modern clients come to the initial attorney consultation informed by Internet searches.  They are in turn impressed by the information on a law firm's website and how good it looks. Clients know that if they aren't impressed by the firm's powers of marketing persuasion, the courtroom skill set just might not be there.

To survive in this modern world, attorneys must embrace this lawyer-salesman mindset. There is no shame in marketing with class and soft selling one's law firm to clients. Tacky TV ads are not the only option.  But there are options and they are many.

The possible places to spend attorney marketing funds are limitless and the attorney must be sophisticated or money is wasted. Many that you have to earn by the "point one." This is why the field of attorney marketing advisors has taken off.

It is very dangerous to rely solely on the advice of your ad rep from a particular company, as they have a vested interest in selling their product to you.  Instead, consider hiring a traditional marketing firm for advice. Or better yet, hire an attorney marketing consultant.  Spending money to educate yourself on the limitless marketing possibilities before committing marketing dollars is wise.

Remember, we scorn clients for pro se mistakes all the time. They truly get what they pay for. And so do we. Let's get advise from the experts. An attorney who is marketing himself truly has a fool for a client.

- Mike Arnold is the managing partner of Arnold Law in Eugene, Oregon. He is the firm's lead jury trial counsel and leads the firm's business practice decisions. 

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