Affording a solo or full-fledged firm often depends upon a steady flow of new clients. Under the old model, a fresh law grad would get a job at a firm. Next, the green attorney would learn the ropes. Once trained, the advocate would put out his shingle. Sometimes they may partner up and start an LLC. Often, a paycheck was based solely upon referral advertising. Targeting old clients remains a standard model.
And only a small percentage of injury attorneys have had great success in bringing on new clients. For example, these intelligent people will be guest speakers on the legal seminar circuit. So this includes seminars such as CAOC or CAALA (bother consumer attorney organizations that give out MCLE credits to attendees of conventions, such as those held in Las Vegas.) Other old-school techniques include the Yellow Pages. But attorney advertising mailers with the proper disclaimer are also older methods of the trade.
These methods can still be a successful way to reach people. Speaking at the CAALA Convention is still an excellent way for fellow less experienced or funded attorneys to size up trial attorneys with vast experience to whom they may wish to refer cases. However, this may not always lead to a reliable stream of regular new clients or “customers.”
Solely relying upon these tested but no less old methods to attract business can be a colossal mistake with diminishing returns in this electronic media age. Many senior lawyers still fear that more aggressive commercial advertising is an ethical dilemma. So they feel it can open them up to State Bar disciplinary proceedings. Other newer agents are usually not too street-savvy or business-oriented, having spent most of their lives in school and college, learning from people who have no clue what it takes to run a business. Frankly, many law professors and teachers, in general, are hostile to companies as a whole.
In particular, new lawyers usually have a cookie-cutter idea of passing the bar and working at a big firm. The problem is that big firms are falling by the wayside. Many reasons exist for this failure. It could be due to over-regulation, taxation, or the high costs and perils of complying with employment regulations. After doing all this, it becomes tough to make a profit.
But a forward-looking legal counselor is not content to depend on the old bare-bones methods of attracting potential clients. Of particular interest, at least seven different methods remain to become leaner and get on track for a brighter future. The caveat here is you must think outside the box.
One of the most significant problems with advertising by any business is ensuring that you target the right customers. But a few questions will need to be answered to advertise in the proper format to attract clients. Where do these people go to find information?
What websites and distribution would these individuals be expected to read? When answering these questions, the focus should be to reach the person looking for a personal injury attorney’s services. The main point is to get the message out there and have it seen by the right individuals.
The usual promotion for attorneys is a combination of a picture of a legal advocate, their practice areas, and a slogan. This promotion is in block-type advertising or a full-page ad, but this isn’t enough to provide all the necessary information about a law firm.
It is wiser not to attempt to give all the needed information in this type of advertising. Using the commercial to promote free and informative words found on the legal advocate’s website or in the office is better. Then, with this educational data or information, the lawyer can tell the law firm’s full story to the reader.
The critical issue with potential clients is that they are not too side-tracked with all the articles the law firm has ever submitted on their website or distribution site and all law firm’s history. This client is a person seeking specific information involving their particular issues. And they also want to know what options there are legal.
This person wants to understand. The attorney’s job is to have materials that will address the type of legal problem the individual has, which deals with the concerns and frustrations they may be going through. This is the kind of information that will get better results in addressing practice areas.
Yes, it would help if you pointed out what makes you different and suited as a business. But the main thrust needs to be addressing the actual data that the injured person needs help with, for example. So this must strike as the initial impact when a Potential New Client, or “PNC,” clicks on your website.
It is essential to show your position on what area of law is practiced by the law firm or lawyer. The person looking to hire an attorney does not want just general information; they want to know this is an accomplished lawyer. They want someone who practices the law they seek and is in their location. For any advertising campaign to be helpful for the law, firm prospects are the main focus.
Attorneys should monitor their costs; lowering costs will not have the result expected. But there is always competition. And someone else remains ready to outdo your efforts. But in most cases reducing advertising expenses damages legitimacy with current clients.
They could believe they may have overpaid for services for a less prestigious attorney. And that will attract potential customers, not the caliber of claims you would be comfortable representing. These are known as deal customers shopping for the least expensive attorney.
But it is better to focus on quality and provide clients with the image they want in representation. This image is reflected in their acknowledgment that expert legal advocates earn what they charge. A lot of this is about optics. If your attorney drives a beat-up old Volvo or a High-end Mercedes, who makes more money?
What would a decision-maker at an insurance company think when making an offer which just parked next to the attorney at the JAMS or JDAMS mediation to settle the quadriplegia case? What would your neighbor feel if they saw your lawyer getting out of or into one of those cars?
I mean to take it to an extreme, if your lawyer wore a nice suit, or tattered jeans, which one are you more likely to hire? Common sense dictates that you appear to be a winner and wreak of success.
Advertising decisions are made in some law firms by a group choice or through social events, and this is not the most successful way to determine how advertising will be accomplished. The most successful way to focus on advertising is to put one person in charge of all decisions; this will allow a specific focus rather than decisions made in several directions that will not have the power of a targeted advertising campaign.
Democracies do not work in general. This system is why you need to choose a republican form of leadership within your organization to make these hard choices and keep the ball rolling! If they fail, get rid of them and learn this stuff yourself!
Law firms or legal counselors often center on their specialized areas of the law rather than promoting their law firm. This information should be what the client is looking for and knowing there are quality legal advocates. Law firms that are advertising are vying for new business. You must show how you achieve your daily operations to bring in a steady stream of customers.
Using the correct format and focus on advertising can be entirely successful and rewarding. But when done wrong, it can result in a low-quality client base. Advertising has gone to different heights than just traditional Yellow Page advertising. And the law firm that wants to reach the most significant percentage of potential clients will find using other advertising methods rewarding. Stay ethical, and read all attorney advertising guidelines on the California State Bar website. Lastly, continue your legal education and stay focused on the end goal.
Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer in the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.