Solo Network

50 Ways to Market Your Practice

Tip-top tips from successful solos and small-firm practitioners

Posted Oct 1, 2007 1:12 PM CDT
By Margaret Graham Tebo

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Illustration by Harry Campbell

There’s an adage that the best person to ask for advice is someone who has already done what you’re trying to do. So who better to tell solo and small-firm lawyers about successful marketing techniques than those running successful practices?

Here are 50 tips compiled by attorney Terry Berger of West­minster, Md. Many came from the ABA’s Solosez discussion group, which boasts more than 2,000 solo and small-firm lawyers as members.

1. Join your local chamber of commerce. It’s great for networking and community credibility.

2. Get a unique business card and hand it out freely.

3. Give a client or other nonlawyer contact at least two cards—one to keep and another to give away.

4. Give every employee his or her own business cards with name, title and e-mail address, along with the name of the law firm. People are more likely to hand out cards with their own names on them.

5. Offer to write an article for your local paper on a topic such as why everyone should have a will or questions to ask a contractor. Make sure the byline includes the name of your firm and, if possible, your e-mail address.

6. Add a signature block to your outgoing e-mail that includes your name, firm name (or simply attorney at law) city, state and phone number.

7. Try to get a local reporter to use you as a legal expert. Send an e-mail offering commentary on a court case. Learn to translate legalese into English and reporters will love you.

8. Join e-mail discussion lists at the local and state bar level, as well as the ABA’s Solosez group. (You don’t need to be an ABA member to join Solosez.)

9. Apply to teach at a local community college, community center or similar venue. This could be a for-credit course or a one-day course on your area of legal expertise.

10. Make sure everyone in your office building knows who you are, that you’re a lawyer and what type of law you practice.

11. Send holiday cards to everyone you meet and keep the list growing. Also, send them early. If your clients get cards on Dec. 23, they may throw them away Dec. 26. If they get them early, the cards may sit out on the mantel for weeks.

12. Send birthday and anniversary cards to colleagues and clients. A simple calendar system and a box of generic cards makes this task easy.

13. Send personalized calendars each new year. Many Web sites will add your information to standard calendars at a low price. Try the long, thin calendars that are designed to stick to the top or bottom frame of a computer monitor.

14. Ask your clients to refer others to you. At the conclusion of the client’s case, when they express gratitude, hand them some cards and tell them you hope they’ll send their friends to you.

15. Offer to speak to community groups or at senior centers on topics such as wills, fraud avoidance and similar issues.

16. Register with your local bar association speaker’s bureau. If your bar doesn’t have one, offer to help start one.

17. Make sure everyone at your church or synagogue knows that you are an attorney and has your business card.

18. Advertise in school and church newsletters and local marketer newspapers. This sort of advertising is usually cost-efficient and such publications are surprisingly well-read by their target audiences.

19. Post your business card on the bulletin board at your barbershop, beauty salon, grocery store, community center and house of worship.

20. Send a copy of a recent case or legal news clip to another professional, attaching your card and a note such as, “I thought this might be of interest.” Make a commitment to send at least two each week.

21. Send a congratulatory note to other local businesspeople in the news.

22. Donate last year’s Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory or other slightly outdated law books to your local library with a bookplate bearing your name and firm name.

23. Donate magazines to your local jail, nursing home or school and hand over your business card when you drop them off.

24. Volunteer to speak at your local high school about law-related topics. Not only might the students become clients, but their teachers and parents just might, too.

25. Actively participate in community affairs.

26. Give business cards to waitstaff at your favorite restaurant and other service people you see regu­larly. Ask them to offer the cards to other customers who seem to need a lawyer.

27. Have lunch or dinner frequently with attorneys who practice in other areas and be sure you have plenty of each other’s cards for referrals.

28. Cross-sell. When you complete work for clients, remind them that you handle other matters as well. Make sure they know that you would like the opportunity to serve them—or their friends, relatives, etc.—by drafting wills, handling personal injury matters or reviewing contracts.

29. Ask your clients to allow you to be their first contact for any legal issue they may encounter. Let them know that if you can’t handle the matter, you know someone who can.

30. Get to know your client’s business. If appropriate, visit your client’s business. Showing interest reminds clients that their success is your success.

31. Tell clients what services you provide. Provide clients with all the necessary information about the firm so they can be better referral sources.

32. Send out press releases. Small local newspapers are especially in­terested.

33. Remind clients of obligations, such as lease renewal dates, business name registration dates and other important dates.

34. Send congratulations to clients for any life event, such as the birth of a child or a graduation.

35. Come up with new ideas for clients or their businesses. Even if the ideas are not acted on, it shows clients you are thinking of them and that you are creative.

36. Every Monday morning (or Sunday night) write down five marketing activities that you will accomplish during the week.

37. Make certain everyone in your firm and your family knows what type of law you practice and what type of clients you are seeking. Share information about case successes with staff.

38. Write down a 30-second description of your practice and commit it to memory. This is called the elevator speech. Use it whenever someone asks, “What type of law do you practice?” Everyone in the firm should have a copy of the description.

39. List five to 10 people or businesses you would like to have as clients. Devise a plan to get their attention.

40. List your 10 best clients or your 10 newest clients. Ask each why they came to your firm. This will allow you to determine which of your current marketing efforts are successful. Increase those efforts.

41. Never participate in any activity simply to get business. Always participate in an activity you enjoy or have interest in. If you are not interested in the group, you will not give your best effort and you will not benefit.

42. Network, network, network. Remember this is a never-ending process. It takes a long time to develop and benefit from contacts.

43. Never apologize for the size of your firm. This is especially important for solos and small-firm practitioners. There are good reasons for clients to use a solo or small-firm lawyer. Know what these reasons are, and let your clients and potential clients know. Always stress your strengths.

44 If there is more than one attorney in your firm, learn to cross-sell services to other clients. Clients often are not even aware of all the services provided. Brainstorm with your colleagues about how to better serve your clients.

45. Seek out free listings in directories—printed and online.

46. Write an e-mail newsletter about your practice area and send it to other lawyers. Archive the news­letters online.

47. Join the local trial lawyers association, even if you don’t do much trial work. It’s a good place to network and get name recognition from other lawyers.

48. Give out laminated “What to do after an accident” or “What to do if you’re arrested” cards with your firm’s information.

49. Give out durable key chains or pens—items that people use frequently—with your firm information printed on them.

50. Give vinyl or nylon briefcases to clients at their first visit. This will encourage clients to keep important papers for their case in one place and to bring everything to each office visit. Add a pen, key chain, pad of paper and some business cards to the case.

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