Thursday, October 13, 2005

Do lawyers need marketing and PR?

Few legal firms believe in marketing and PR. This might cost them dearly in the long run for several reasons.
  1. The market has changed. As long as there are people, there will be conflicts and lawyers will be able to make a living. However, clients are becoming more and more savvy – Internet and blogs make juridical information available to everyone.
    A lawyer has to realize that his/her potential clients will be critical and want to keep posted each step of the way.

  2. Having a sterling reputation is not enough. Many lawyers still think that clients will come to them. Being well known and having a wonderful record of accomplishment will not have a pull effect. Law firms must actively seek out and search for clients. Just waiting for the knock on the door will not do it.

  3. Websites are necessary. Many law firms still have no website at all or minimal one that isn’t being updated. They still assume that having a contact page will suffice. Law firms must invest in professional websites that reflect the capabilities and track record of the law firm.

  4. Lawyers still think that they provide first and foremost professional services and ignore the client’s demand for full and upfront disclosure of pricing, procedures and risks.

  5. Law firms must realize that they are selling a product: namely themselves. Lawyers must therefore market themselves to the public.

  6. Competition. Many well-established law firms ignore market research on competitors. This might cost them dearly in the long run.

  7. Branding. Law firms are notorious for ignoring branding. They are reputation-focused, building on publications and won cases. All professionals are only as good at their last success and maintaining a flawless rack record in law is almost impossible due to the many outside factors that can influence a case or procedure. Lawyers should therefore be brand-conscious and build and nurture their brand.
What are the lessons that marketing can teach lawyers?
  1. Market research: identify potential clients, to keep abreast of changes in culture and trends that could influence legislation, to analyze the competition.
  2. SWOT analysis: identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
  3. Positioning: position the law firm in the market, communicating its expertise, track record and price structure.
  4. Branding: trade name, logo, website, corporate colors etc.
  5. Promotion: newsletters, updates, sponsoring, adopting a cause
  6. Public relations: communicate with the public, with clients, with industry players.
  7. Media: trade magazines, local newspapers/radio/TV, national media and (depending on the expertise) international media.

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