Please excuse this “soap box moment” 🙂
The essence of an effective law firm marketing strategy is as follows. Everything else (websites, social media, etc. are merely the tactics used to deploy this 1,000 year old law firm marketing strategy:
1. Understand what your clients really want because a big source of bar complaints and malpractice cases is when lawyers work their butts-off but inadvertently solve the “wrong” problem. There is a method for being sure you understand the client’s problem and how to document it to protect yourself, protect the client, protect your relationship with the client and of course yes this is all exactly what the Bar Rules are concerned about when they talk about client communication.
2. Don’t concern yourself with selling YOUR services. Focus on helping people in the community to find solutions to their problems. There is a method for doing this that positions you as a lawyer as a valued resource to the community. Bar Rules encourage us to go out and be of service to the community. Some State Bars even have whole departments that exist to encourage lawyers to get out and do speeches and other kinds of outreach programs to the community.
3. Communicate with your clients. There are a myriad of law office management procedures that affect the client’s perception of how effectively their lawyer communicates with them. The Bar Rules give added weight to the client’s perception in these sorts of matters. Clients who feel like their lawyer communicated with them often and effectively are less likely to file a bar grievance, a malpractice action and are more likely to come back for more help and refer their friends to the law firm.
4. Stay in touch after the matter ends. State bars spend a fortune on trying to improve the public’s perception of lawyers. And every day lawyers prove them wrong by cashing the client’s check and then forgetting all about them. Bar Rules say that once a client, always a client for purposes of attorney-client privilege, conflict of interest and loyalty. So doesn’t it make sense to apply that same standard of forever giving a hoot about a client to proactively keep in touch with them even after the matter or case has drawn to a close? The Statute of Limitations for Bar Grievances & Malpractice actions in most states is about 5 years. Ongoing proactive communication with clients reduces the chance of “buyers’” remorse that leads to bar grievances and malpractice actions. It also happens to be a timeless method of effectively marketing a law firm.
5. Every State Bar has a pro-bono outreach program. They spend millions of dollars on these programs because the Oath of Attorney and the Bar Rules say we’re supposed to facilitate access to the courts and stand up for people’s rights. If more lawyers understood how to properly manage their finances and implement creative billing strategies, more of the general public would be able to afford legal representation, there would be less burden on the pro-bono programs and every such attorney would be doing his and her duty to uphold the objectives of these programs for ensuring as many people as possible have an advocate to protect their interests. These creative billing strategies also tend to increase client satisfaction, improve law firm profitability and lead to more repeat & referral business.
With the right law firm marketing and law office management skills a lawyer doesn’t have to choose between happiness, cash flow or the ethical practice of law. Together the three form a trinity that cannot be broken. You cannot reliably attract clients to a law firm for the long term if you are not upholding the highest ethical standards. You cannot stay in business or be of greatest service to the public and your clients if you do not run your law firm effectively as a business. You will burn out and client service will inevitably degrade if you do not run your law firm at a profit.
I assure you everything I’ll be teaching has a direct bearing on and is directly borne upon by our professional & ethical standards as members of the legal profession.
I could literally just read the Ethics/Professionalism Rules of any State Bar aloud commenting on them as I go and connect each & every one of them to proven and profitable law firm marketing & management practices that long-pre-date the rules. So no worries, we’ll keep the CLE people happy!