Posts Tagged ‘law firm marketing’

It isn’t law firm marketing vs. social media

July 25, 2010

Kevin O’Keefe is a great blogging and business development resource for the legal community.  However, I disagree with this statement:

“Law firm marketing departments seeking to protect their lawyers’ time by keeping them from learning what it means to blog and use social media are doing their lawyers and firms a disservice. They’re also costing their law firm a lot of business.”

This is an example of the classic “strawman” argument where you pose a position that is extreme and unrepresentative.

Law firm marketing departments are in the business of protecting their lawyer’s time but I doubt very many marketing departments are, “keeping them from learning” about blogs and LinkedIn etc.  What they are doing to protecting their firms’ larger interest in making sure that  how individual attorneys and practice groups are marketing themselves is coordinated with the firm’s as a whole

Example:

Say a law firm partner goes out and creates a blog on generic drugs when most of the firm’s pharmaceutical clients are branded pharmaceutical companies.  Maybe its a new partner in a small office and hasn’t had a chance to be educated on all that the firm does.  Its often the firm marketing department that is on the front lines in such cases and is in a position to educate the partner about best practices in reaching out to clients.  It’s too easy for a partner who knows how to blog or tweet to disregard “marketing” and step into a hornet’s nest.

Law firm marketing provides social media guidance

Allowing law firm attorneys to run amok on social networking and engage in rogue business development without proper guidance from marketing can also cost the law firm lots of money.  Signing up clients adverse to existing client can results in disgruntled and perhaps even litigious clients.

Cravath to clients: we are the greatest!

July 15, 2010

Cravath Swaine is a very old, very established and very rich New York City law firm with hundreds of lawyers.  So they are allowed to break the rules and communicate a message to its clients that they need Cravath not that Cravath needs them.

“Cravath has been known as the premier U.S. law firm for nearly two centuries.” So says their website.

Most lawyers and law firms not Cravath

If you don’t consider yourself “the” premier U.S. law firm, then you might need your home-page to communicate a different message – what you can do for your clients.  For example, the Cooley law firm has a rotating “spotlight” box front and center on their home-page that touts results its delivered to its clients.

Be Cooley not Cravath

Social media – lawyer vs. law firm

July 9, 2010

For years law firms have grown larger, increasingly international and necessarily more complex.  Their advertising and marketing budgets have reflected that growth and the campaigns have grown in sophistication as well.

Here comes social media

But social networking is primarily a personal medium – blogs, Twitter and LinkedIn are all more engaging when an identifiable human being is involved. And despite all the growth in law firms, legal services remains a personal business.  The mantra of, “we hire lawyers not law firms” hasn’t died out and now with social media, it gains a whole new relevance.

Should law firms blog or tweet?

So should law firms, no matter how big, allow their rainmakers to create personal blogs and Twitter accounts?

How does the law firm make sure its attorneys aren’t violating privacy, confidentiality or common sense rules about what to make public?

Should the law firm still have its own blog or Twitter account?

Inform, educate but don’t restrict

The fact is that “rainmakers” bring business to a law firm and not the firm itself, so social media should be seen as another tool for the top partners in a law firm to market to clients and prospective clients without having get permission for everything they write.  In most cases, it’s these folks personalities, their thinking, their expertise that attracts clients to engage them as their lawyers.  Social networking outlets are a perfect way for them to build on their successes.

Lead from the top

The firm’s management committee should determine who engage ed in active social networking and they should be assigned a social networking guru in the marketing department to assist.  Not every partner needs to blog or tweet.  The firm should be aware of who is doing this and believe it will assist that partner in bringing more business to the firm.  They should monitor what these partners are saying and they should make sure these partners are informed and trained about social networking pitfalls and new developments.

Should the “firm” tweet or blog too?

Sure, why not disseminated firm announcements, news, events and accomplishments through a blog, Facebook page and Twitter feed?  This won’t bring in business but it will give clients and potential clients a sense of an engaged and active law firm.

Twitter for law firms – have a strategy

April 7, 2010

This post at Stem Legal does a good job explaining how not to use to Twitter – as a way republish a law firm’s media page from its website.  It goes on to argue that good Twitter use involves posting about what clients care about.  Presumably this is the subject matter of what brought the client to the firm in the first place.  It wasn’t that the firm has open an office in Elko Nevada.

Here’s a thought:

  • Start with a strategy not a tool.  What is the message the firm wants to convey to clients and prospective clients and can Twitter help spread the word?  For example, if one of your messages is that you have great lawyers with deep expertise in multiple practice areas, maybe the focus should be on getting them to share that knowledge via Twitter to potential clients.  Don’t even bother having a firm Twitter profile.  Work to get select and interested attorney on board.

Big law doesn’t understand branding

February 11, 2010

As reported by “Above the Law”  at the recent PLI  Law Firm Leadership and Management Institute, Bill Pearlstein of WilmerHale answered the question of “”Why must law firms be strategic?” by showing he doesn’t know what that means.  He said that the question was what do you want clients and lawyers in your firm to think of when you firm is mentioned.  He went on to cite the strongest practice areas of the firm.

Where to start.  First, listing practice groups as an answer to the question of why law firms must be strategic completely misses the point.  Second his reformulation of the question as being what “clients and your lawyers” think of the firm is too broad and too narrow.   First, don’t worry about what your lawyers think about the firm.  They should be told what firm’s message is and told to learn to repeat it succinctly with comfort and ease.   Second, the firm should be shaping the thinking not just of clients but also prospects, referrals and the general public that can help shape the buzz about the firm.

An illustration: What if Allstate insurance decided that the best brand strategy for the company was for people to know that Allstate sold car, home and life insurance policies rather than that they were the “good hands” people?  

Lesson: lawyers don’t think like marketing people and that’s okay.  What isn’t okay is when they think they know what they don’t know and end up getting quoted at seminars as if they do know what they don’t know.

Law firm mailers – avoid plastic grenades

January 28, 2010

John Browning posts in “Dallas Blog” about Quinn Emmanuel’s mailer introducing the firm to Silicon Valley tech companies in the shape of a plastic grenade.  Unfortunately, many recipients didn’t get the “plastic” part and reported the suspicious items to authorities.  Not quite what the law firm had in mind.

This reminded me of a mailer a law firm developed in the shape of a mountain peak that folded into a long, unusually shaped envelope.  Nothing wrong with that.  This was a flyer that was to stand out and get the law firm much needed attention.  Yes, the envelope size upped the postage and required extra costs but that’s part of the cost of getting more visible.  

The problem was no one looked at the mailing list before sending it out.  Firm personnel received the flyer at their office address, or at their homes, it went to their ex-wives, to competitors, to defunct companies, and finally to folks the postal service couldn’t find.  The firm had sent out thousands of these envelopes and sadly many of these envelopes were returned.  Because of their shape, it was highly visible to everyone that someone had spent a lot of money designing and mailing these flyers and as the stacks accumulated in the mail room and in the marketing center it became equally clear that no one had thought about who would receive these expensive introductions to the firm. 

Lesson?  Think about your mailing list first.

SEO lessons for law firm

December 1, 2009

Habush, Habush & Rottier, is suing the law firm of Cannon & Dunphy claiming that Cannon has been paying Google and others to direct people who search on Habush’s name to go to the Cannon website.

The Cannon law firm is claiming that this was done through a “marketer” and that they didn’t request the use of the competitor’s name a paid search term.

Lesson 1.  Make sure your SEO strategy is an extension of how you market your services generally.  Good SEO is also good marketing.  If true, Cannon, by redirecting search results hits from a more popular law firm, is surrendering on its marketing efforts.  It is saying that it can’t compete legitimately with Habush so it needs to take a surreptitious approach.

Lesson 2.  Learn about the basics of good SEO and make sure to hire reputable SEO companies.  Perform due diligence and don’t be dazzled by claims that suddenly the firm’s phone will be ringing nonstop with new business.  The phone might ring instead with complaints about the firm’s SEO tactics.

What lawyers should know before meeting a prospect

September 25, 2009

Alexis Martin Neeley provides a helpful post about preparing materials before meeting with a prospect.  She is definitely right about the importance of being prepared before the meeting.  However, I have heard people say that its better to prepare materials after the meeting because then you have a better idea of the client’s interests and concerns and because it provides a natural opportunity to follow-up with the prospect.

I think it depends on the prospect.  If they know nothing about your firm, an introductory brochure is useful as a takeaway.  

However, I would also suggest attorneys learn about the prospect.   Who do use for their outside legal work?  Do they spread the work around or do they only have a couple go-to firms?  What’s going on with the prospect’s business?  Do they post a mission statement on their website?  How much do they focus on diversity and charitable work?  Are they facing a huge lawsuit or are their rumblings that they might be facing litigation?

These questions will help attorneys to key into the mindset of the prospect to make them feel they are talking to people that “get” them.

Top law firm taglines

September 25, 2009

Steve Matthews of Stemlaw provides a list of top U.S., Canadian and U.K. law firm taglines.  Two firm might be a bit chagrined at the similarities in their taglines:

Leonard Street & Deinard: Uncommon Wisdom. Common Sense.

Quarles & Brady: Common Ground. Uncommon Vision.