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The marketing benefits of being nice will be touted at Lawyernomics conference

Posted Apr 22, 2014 1:09 PM CDT
By Victor Li

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There's an oft-quoted maxim that "it's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice." For many lawyers those two concepts can go hand in hand when it comes to generating business and burnishing credentials.

Lawyers attending Avvo's fifth annual Lawyernomics conference will learn all about why they should be nicer to their clients. The conference, which will be held at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas from Wednesday through Friday, is geared towards helping small firms and solo practices increase their marketing prowess.

Attendees will get tips on how technology can allow them to run a more efficient practice and how effective storytelling can help them develop their brands. The conference will also have an entire day devoted to how attorneys can utilize Avvo in order to boost their online presence and increase their visibility.

The ABA Journal and Attorney at Work are media sponsors for the conference.

As Avvo CEO Mark Britton notes, being nice to clients is about putting a client's needs first and looking at the client as something other than a bag with a dollar sign on it.

"There's a growing understanding from lawyers of the importance of not putting potential clients on the clock immediately," says Britton. "Instead, lawyers should give some of their time and thoughts for free up front to establish a relationship with someone who will turn into a longstanding client."

In that vein, entrepreneur and author Peter Shankman will deliver the keynote address. Shankman, scheduled to speak on Thursday, has written about this phenomenon extensively, most recently in his book Nice Companies Finish First: Why Cutthroat Management Is Over--and Collaboration Is In, published in April 2013. Shankman maintains that nice lawyers finish first when it comes to generating revenue and engendering loyalty from clients.

"It's time for law firms to stop thinking like law firms," says Shankman. Instead of running up the billable hours, Shankman says lawyers need to re-learn customer service and focus on fulfilling the needs of their clients. For instance, they can offer reduced or alternative fees and be more transparent about the firm's operations. "Based on the studies I've done, being nice can result in a 10 to 30 percent increase in revenue," says Shankman.

Being nice is doubly important because the Internet and social media have given greater weight to word-of-mouth recommendations.

"The art of the personal recommendation has never been higher and never been quicker," says Shankman. Pointing to a law firm he works with that tries to sit on as many panels for startups as possible, he says, "It's not because they're looking for clients. In fact, most startups fail. But the ones that succeed will remember this lawyer and come back for advice."

Britton echoes Shankman by saying that being nice will allow lawyers to burnish their reputations and generate more business. A key component of that, Britton says, is effective inbound marketing.

"Rather than saying you're great, inbound marketing is about showing how you're great and getting it in front of audiences," says Britton. "Giving something but leaving brand impression."

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