Question: How do you market litigation? It seems like people don’t even think about it until they need it. So our practice is wondering, is all the time spent speaking, writing, networking and generating publicity really going to do much good?
Amy Adams: Most people don’t consider hiring an attorney until they need one, so it’s important to be top of mind when someone requires your services. Speaking, writing, networking and publicity are all important pieces of the marketing puzzle, but marketing litigation (or any other practice area) essentially boils down to relationships.
It is crucial to build your referral network. Depending on the structure and size of your firm, you may have the ability to cross-sell internally. Venture outside your team to find synergy and create more opportunities to develop business within the firm. In addition to networking with other attorneys, remember to connect with external referral sources—even your college roommate may refer business to you one day.
Also, ensure current and potential clients are finding your valuable information online by posting your articles, events and press mentions to your firm’s website, biography and LinkedIn profile. Connect with current clients by inviting them to lunch (don’t bill them) to genuinely listen to their issues and add value. Don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing—many new clients are born from current client referrals.
Marketing takes time and effort, but if done consistently and strategically, it can bring about great rewards.
Amy Adams is the marketing director at Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, a full-service law firm headquartered in Woodbridge, NJ. With over a decade of experience, she manages the firm’s marketing and business development initiatives. She is chair of the Legal Marketing Association’s New Jersey City Group. Follow her on Twitter @ajamarketing.
Tina Emerson: I’ll answer the question with a question. How is anyone supposed to think of you first if you’re not speaking, writing or networking? Clients look first to their existing relationships with an attorney. If that attorney lacks the experience needed for a particular matter, they look to their contacts for referrals. Those contacts might be other lawyers, their co-workers or even their counterparts at a competitor.
Market your knowledge and show your leadership by attending industry-specific events, offer to be a speaker for some of them, write articles for trade publications, and engage in social media with your target groups. Whichever you choose (and you should choose them all), this is where the rubber meets the road in your marketing plan. If you have not engaged in consistent efforts to share knowledge in a specific area of practice and build relationships with those who can send business to you, chances are very low that the phone will ring.
It may seem initially that there is no ROI, but there is no instant gratification in marketing—particularly in litigation. The right relationships, cultivated over time, will pay dividends when it is time to choose a litigator.
Tina Emerson is marketing director at Rogers Townsend & Thomas, PC, a full-service firm headquartered in Columbia, SC. With 15 years of B2B communications experience, she leads the marketing and business development efforts for the firm’s offices in North Carolina and South Carolina. Follow her on Twitter @tfemerson.
Stewart Hirsch: Speaking and writing build your brand and credibility for when you need it. A benefit of networking is receiving warm introductions, thereby expanding your connections. Here are a few more things you can do:
- Help people, whether they’re potential clients or referral sources. Not as a technique to get something. Help people because it’s the right thing to do. I’m not referring to providing services. Perhaps do something personal, like helping a spouse or kid network for a job. They will, in turn, want to help you, maybe by making introductions and referring you.
- Be a trusted advisor. Many business people appreciate having a smart, thoughtful person who will listen to and understand them. Someone to think out loud with. Provide the gift of listening, ask good questions, and at times give non-legal advice. If litigation arises, you could be the go-to person.
- Ask people you have provided services for in the past to make introductions to their colleagues. Stay in touch by providing ideas or information valuable to them.
There is more, of course. Articles on the web on marketing litigation abound. You won’t know which activities will lead to work, so approach it from several directions and be patient.
Stewart Hirsch is a business development and leadership coach for lawyers. He is also a former firm and in-house attorney. He is principal at Strategic Relationships, which he founded, and leads the coaching practice at Trusted Advisor Associates LLC. He also co-produces and edits “Ask the Authorities” for the LMA’s Strategies magazine. Follow him on Twitter @stewartmhirsch.
What’s Your Question?
No, not every law firm has a professional marketer or business development coach on staff to answer questions. So send us your questions via email or use the comment section below, and we’ll pass them on to the experts at the Legal Marketing Association. Watch for the best ones here in Ask the Expert.legalmarketing.org The Legal Marketing Association provides professional support and education as well as opportunities for intellectual and practical information exchange.
Illustration © iStockPhoto.com