Attorneys have a tough time advertising and marketing their law firms. Not because creating great advertising is a specialized, creative craft that is usually done by brilliant advertising artists and copywriters. But because there are so many rules and regulations that forbid how and what you can say in the ads. Every state’s Bar Association has their own set of standard rules and regulations that attorneys must follow or be cited for ethics violations. Some of the rules are reasonable, such as “The state may prohibit speech that is false or misleading.” That should be a golden rule for any profession.
Some states, such as New York, restrict ads to only contain the address and phone number in an ad along with the type of law the attorney or law firm practices.
You have an obligation to “enhance the image of the legal profession. You will be so guided in your comments about the judiciary, opposing counsel or the members of any other profession and in the methods and contents of any advertising which you may pursue”, as stated by the ABA in their Civility Code.
Websites are no different. Websites are considered a form of advertising, so the same rules will apply. You are stating what you can do for your clients and how you can help them when a legal issue may arise. We follow the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct when we design legal websites.
How do you market yourself when you can’t say how good you are?
Since it is so restrictive for lawyers to advertise, having an ethically sound and effective website can ensure constant client communication and networking. You can say the type of law you practice to let your prospective client know if you can help them or not. Just don’t say “you’re an expert at business law”, “you’re the best at environmental law” or you “specialize in family law”. You can say you are available to practice business law, environmental law or family law. Just don’t claim that you have specialized experience in a type of law.
Even though we know you are the best at what you do, you can’t say that on your website. No pats on the back when you are advertising your firm. You need to stay clear of describing your fees, abilities, skills and the results of your efforts for other clients from the past. No comparing what you do to what your competition does, even though there is no comparison.
So, how can you let prospective clients know what you do? Here are 15 simple ideas you can try to help market your practice:
- Some lawyers believe that if you do good work, people will automatically come to you. They are wrong. People need reminders of who you are. Contact three to five potential referral sources every week, regardless of how busy you are—and arrange to meet for coffee, drinks or a meal. That works much better than reaching out only when business is slow.
- At business receptions, ask organizers whether you can be a greeter. This gives you a great reason to introduce yourself to people.
- Send out Cards. Your firm’s Christmas or Holiday card is probably one of many that clients or potential clients receive. Pick another holiday (or make one up) that you enjoy and that complements your practice. Separating yourself from other, similar messages is truly effective.
- When you meet a potential client, focus on his or her immediate needs. It may have nothing to do with your practice. Maybe that person’s immediate need is to find a dentist. If you know one and can connect them, there’s a better chance the person will think of you when your services are needed.
- Develop a marketing plan around activities you enjoy. If you like to write, think about an electronic newsletter. If you connect better with people one on one, consider volunteer work with an activity that complements your practice.
- Go to weekly networking meetings in your area. Here are a few good questions to ask people you meet:
What got you started in your line of work?
What are you working on?
How are things going with your business in this economy?
- You don’t need to hand out a business card to everyone you meet at a reception if it feels forced and desperate. Instead, ask for other people’s cards, and email your contact information to them afterward. There’s a better chance they will remember you. Plus, by asking for their card, they will most likely ask for your card.
- Tweeting: Unless you’re the POTUS Posting tweets between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) gets the highest click rate, according to the website Mashable. But be careful if you have work during those scheduled times. You don’t want a client to think you are tweeting while you’re defending someone in a deposition or trial.
- Install Google Analytics on your website. It details what search terms got people to your site and how long they stayed there. You can also use it to determine popular search terms, and put the terms that relate to your practice on your website. Call Mark if you need help with this at 732.539.0865.
- Take time once a week to write LinkedIn endorsements for people you’ve worked with and respect. Don’t wait for them to ask you for one, do it on your own.
- Market the work you’d like to be doing, not the work you have to do to pay the bills.
- Ask for a guest list before you attend a business event, and identify individuals you’d like to meet.
- Be an adjunct professor. It adds to your expertise, you can pick up some extra cash and former students can be great referral sources. Or if your community offers free classes, think about volunteering to teach one in an area that complements your practice.
- Give people you meet a brief description of what you do, rather than only stating your title. You’re more than a title.
- If you have a website (and you should), make sure you have a blog, too. Add new content to it weekly, because Google algorithms give more prominence to sites with fresh, original content. The content doesn’t have to be in the form of a long, researched post. A paragraph or two, with a recent link to something interesting and relevant to your practice, will get you the same amount of traffic—if not more—than longer posts.
Click here to download your very own copy of our latest eBook, “3 Reasons Your Website Isn’t Helping Your Firm Generate New Clients”.
You can get some ideas on how to make your website a more effective marketing tool. To notify your neighbors and your community about the type of law you practice that may help them now or in the future, when the need may arise.
So if you need advice on your website, call 732.539.0865 or email Mark@ReganGraphicDesign.com and he can help you get your name out to your public and keep you away from committing ethic violations.
Best of luck on all your new clients that you’ll be getting!!