Marketing Advice Lawyers Receive

The American Bar Association Journal on July 1 published an article entitled, “50 simple ways you can market your practice.”

It is directed to lawyers and contains such gems as:

17.) People sometimes need to be convinced that their legal problem is severe enough to hire you, and it’s up to you to persuade them. That said, turning someone away when they really don’t need a lawyer is good for business, too. It’s a good way to build trust.

and

23.) The best elevator speech? “Hi, I’m a lawyer. What do you do?”

Even if you set aside the issue of whether elevator speeches are appropriate or effective ways to sell something as complicated as legal services, the actual words that lawyers are encouraged to say are robotic, if not downright lame.

It would be easy several other specific pieces of marketing advice that is directed to lawyers.  But there is a much more important pattern and lesson here.

A majority of the marketing tips listed in the article make it seem that marketing a law firm is nothing more than completing a series of techniques and tricks.  And, for example, if only a lawyer adds Google Analytics to their website, attends trade association events, and don’t hand out too many business cards all at once, everything will be fine.  But marketing isn’t a discrete series of steps that need to be mastered. What’s missing from the ABA Journal article and much of the advice that lawyers receive about marketing is a sense that client service should a focus.  That’s the pattern behind the ABA Journal list and others that I have seen.

The broader lesion is this:  Lawyers aren’t likely to change the way law firms operate by themselves.  Real and lasting change will only take place when clients play a much larger role and exert more control of the client-attorney relationship.

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