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Law Firm Marketing and Advertising

Marketing ImageLaw Firms today must integrate marketing into the business planning process in order to be successful. Marketing efforts should include anyone on the staff who has client contact. At The Attorney Store our mission is to bring you the best minds available for client development and help bring your marketing efforts to a higher level.

Strategic Marketing: Is Your Firm Doing all the Right Things?

Content Provided by:
IOMA
Editor: Lisa Isom-Rodriguez

The ideas outlined below will prove helpful to law firm leaders looking for insights on client development to help firms improve marketing ROI:

  • Track marketing time. It is not billable, but it is quantifiable. Keep records of the number of speeches individuals give, the events they attend, and other marketing–related tasks to promote buy–in to the firm’s overall client development efforts.
    Tracking Your Internet Marketing
  • Require lateral prospects to present a coherent business and marketing plan. No successful firm would take on laterals that do not have such a plan outlining how they intend to translate their reputation and expertise into business for the law firm. With this information, the acquiring firm can put together the marketing strategy or campaign needed to sell each new talent and his or her reputation.
    Find Business Plan Help here
  • Dispatch your lawyers to spend time in one of the established markets. There, they can learn what practitioners in major markets are doing with client development, an exercise that is bound to reveal cutting–edge tactics and ideas.
  • Require all your lawyers to put together annual practice or business plans. Detail should include articles they can write, speeches they can give, list of client prospects, short and long term professional goals and marketing plans. The point being, to assess what they want to do so you can figure out whether their goals mesh with the firm’s. To succeed with this approach, however, you will need to get all of your lawyers to comply. One firm refuses to reimburse partners for their marketing–related expenses unless they have submitted a practice or business plan.
  • Spend less money on your old marketing tactics, more on new ideas. Many law firms do not have the luxury of spending on advertising, for instance. Now, law firm marketing must be more creative about offering clients a convincing reason why their firm should win the work. Think about how your partners can use other tactics such as focused and industry–specific seminars and target their pitches to clients. Online Legal Directories
  • Make a commitment to diversity. This remains a baseline expectation if law firms are to compete successfully. You will have to find subtle ways to inform clients and prospects about your diversity.
  • Integrate your marketing plans with your firm’s IT functions. Ideally, your firm will keep up with its clients’ technology and use its in–house systems to streamline communications. For example: Some firms use electronic conference rooms to facilitate deals, and rely on litigation chat rooms so clients can access materials and readily communicate with their counsel. You should also be using technology to help your firm market more effectively by tracking potential clients, sales calls, and closings.
    Video Conferencing in the Law Office
  • Tap an information expert to assist in your marketing efforts. It may be as simple as assigning your firm’s most skilled librarian to pull together relevant, industry–specific information if you are attempting to develop a new client or planning to participate in a beauty contest. Some firms now retain client research specialists with library backgrounds with full–time relationship managers to track who is sending business to the firm, among other things.
    Online Marketing research
  • Plan now for the passing of the guard. Retiring rainmakers must start early to institutionalize their clients and involve younger lawyers in the relationships. It is a cultural issue that still confounds many firms that can’t avoid ego issues and conflicts with rainmakers who have no intention of passing off work to junior lawyers. This is certainly more difficult for small and midsize firms where a handful of powerful rainmakers run the firm, but one way or another, practices must be institutionalized.
  • Find out why new clients selected your firm. Go beyond the anecdotal. Devise a systematic approach to capture information about the firm’s top clients in order to get a better picture of the possibilities for future client–development activities.
    Web Analytics
    WebSites for Lawyers
  • Raise the bar for what counts as a marketing activity. Successful law firms encourage marketing by everyone and support lawyers who want to give speeches. Still, while the aim is to encourage and compensate those who want to be more active - and there will always be some lawyers who are more suited to and skillful at marketing than others - it is crucial to rein in people who have gone too far.
  • Seek balance when rewarding rainmakers for business production. Although historic lockstep partner compensation systems support collegiality and team spirit, the approach is more apt to cause big business producers to seek greener pastures. A better approach: Balance a modified lockstep system with a zero-based annual partners fund award where, say 50% of net income is redistributed to owners largely on the basis of business production and a few subjective factors. The combination allows firms to develop team spirit, team play, a willingness to share credit, cooperative selling, teambuilding, and the entrepreneurial spirit that encourages lawyers to go out and drum up business.
    Compensation and Benefits for law offices
  • Get your associates out of the office. As in–house purchasers of legal services have gotten younger, one firm leader says his firm has found that its associates are more effective hunters and gathers than the partners. Although associates may be less productive with business generation, it pays to encourage them to attend events that allow for exchanges on a comfortable level. In addition, senior associates in particular should be asked to prepare business plans primarily to get them thinking about the process. One mistake to avoid with associates: Making independent business production a prerequisite for becoming a partner. The approach, firm leaders contend, creates many cultural problems.
  • Continue with your client audits and personal visits. Relationship partners should visit clients once or twice a year to seek feedback on how the firm is doing. To help them, have various practice group leaders come up with at least two five–minute ideas that would be of interest to their clients. One firm leader suggests sending the managing partner, and not the relationship partner. Why? Clients get a better understanding of how much their business truly matters to the firm; input from clients is more candid; and it increases the prospects for cross–selling opportunities.

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