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A Personal View of LEGAL MARKETING’S
Long Strange Journey
             “First, Let’s
              Sell All the
oor John Bates. All he          Up from Disbarment: Out of the                NALFMA (later happily renamed

P          ...
“ F I R S T, LE T ’ S S E LL A LL T H E L AW Y E R S ”

But when the firm down the street had           Strawn hired it...
The Unfortunate Era of the Truly Trite
 LIGHT BULBS                 CHESSBOARDS                    HANDSHAKES             ...
Your Silver Bullet
and its aggressive sales staff convinced
                                                       Focus, ...
“ F I R S T, LE T ’ S S E LL A LL T H E L AW Y E R S ”

sidered that last one. By definition, great   mountains. The sk...
3 Newsletters. Firm newsletters are
still useful ways of staying in touch
with sizable numbers of clients and
prospects, b...
“ F I R S T, LE T ’ S S E LL A LL T H E L AW Y E R S ”

and as exhilarated high-divers at
Levenfeld Pearlstein. This is...
“ F I R S T, LE T ’ S S E LL A LL T H E L AW Y E R S ”

                        0 To help attract       markets trust, ...
to the Internet, as Webinars that save                                                                      0The “Lettuce
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Law Practice magazine "History Of Law Firm Marketing" article


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A personal history of the first 20 years of law firm marketing, by Ross Fishman of Fishman marketing. The Silver Edge Award-winning feature story from the ABA's Law Practice magazine.

Law Practice magazine "History Of Law Firm Marketing" article

  1. 1. TECHNOLOGY: WEB 2.0 •TROUBLESHOOTING 101• FORENSICS EXPERTS THE BUSINESS OF PRACTICING LAW OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2005 VOLUME 31 NUMBER 7 MARKETING THEN&NOW Legal Marketing’s Long Strange Journey. Personal Lessons. PLUS Noland Hamerly.  Our lawyers really know agriculture. For 75 years our attorneys have handled every legal issue facing the agriculture industry. If agriculture is your business we should be your law firm. Noland Hamerly and Agriculture. Together we grow. How to Practice Feel-Good Rainmaking Marketing Salary Survey Stats Rebounding from Marketing Mistakes Is Marketing a Laughing Matter?
  2. 2. A Personal View of LEGAL MARKETING’S Long Strange Journey “First, Let’s Sell All the Lawyers” By Ross Fishman
  3. 3. oor John Bates. All he Up from Disbarment: Out of the NALFMA (later happily renamed P wanted to do was provide legal services to the indi- gent—those who weren’t quite poor enough to qualify for free Legal Aid attorneys. But he found that he couldn’t make a living simply through referrals. He Gate Post-Bates The Bates decision led to the first big wave of mostly consumer-oriented legal advertising. Personal injury lawyers grabbed hold of the opportu- nity with both hands, and the “sincere lawyer holding a gavel and standing in the Legal Marketing Association). The genteel profession of law was becoming a business. That same year, The American Lawyer published the salaries of big- firm lawyers. The figures sent shock- waves across the profession, as lawyers needed high volume. Which meant front of a bookcase” ad was born. migrated to the money, increasing the advertising. Which probably meant Entrepreneurs started snapping up competition among and within firms. getting disbarred. So when he and his law-oriented 800 numbers, and Yellow The firms saw they needed an advan- partner Van O’Steen advertised their Pages advertising exploded for con- tage, a way to connect to clients and price list, they simultaneously hired a sumer practices. Sales of cheesy clipart attract more prospects. lawyer of their own. flags, eagles and ionic columns grew. Public relations became king, as Sure enough, they got clients—and No street-side billboard or bus bench firms hired publicists to get their names disbarred. was safe. in the paper, any paper, on any subject. Fortunately, and famously, their Then, in the very-late ’70s, a couple It wasn’t strategic, but PR firms discov- ultimate appeal to the U.S. Supreme of thoughtful firms gingerly started ered that lawyers loved seeing their Court made it possible for lawyers to putting in writing what they actually names in print—almost as much as market their services. At last, lawyers did, producing the first law firm they hated seeing their competitors’ could stop wondering whether simply brochures—black-and-white, all text, names there. Sales of annual PR retain- having a business card would cause single-spaced, really dull. But they ers skyrocketed. them to lose their licenses. No, really, showed that at least a few firms were And brochures came into vogue on it was that bad. trying to think about what marketing a wider scale. The standard: 24 pages of It’s been nearly 30 years since the might mean. dense, detailed, single-spaced ponder- Supreme Court decided the landmark By 1985, roughly a dozen large ous prose; no pictures; covers bearing Arizona v. Bates, and today selling the law firms had hired their own in- the firm’s name alone. Yep, still really services of lawyers and law firms is a house marketers, and together they dull. You had your choice of any color sophisticated and widespread disci- formed the awkwardly named as long as it was black. Neither clients pline. Witness the fact that the interna- National Association of Law Firm nor the firm’s own lawyers could read tional Legal Marketing Association Marketing Administrators, or these mind-numbing abominations. celebrates its 20th anniversary this year at more than 2,500-members strong. I’ve watched the discipline evolve from primitive to professional, having Legal Services Marketing Timeline left litigation for the brave new world of Here’s a quick- 19 7 7 19 7 7 19 8 4 law firm marketing more than 15 years shot review ago. It’s been quite a ride, in terms of of just a few The U.S. Supreme The ABA Law Market research of the many Court, in Bates Practice briefly takes cen- messages, media and more. By sharing highlights that v. State Bar of Management ter stage with an some of my own dim recollections and have marked Arizona, reverses Section (then American Lawyer observations, I hope to provide some the still- the Arizona Sup- called the cover story about ongoing evolu- reme Court in a Economics of Denver firm context for how far legal marketing has tion of legal 5-4 decision on the Law Practice Gorsuch Kirgis’s come, where we are today—and where marketing. Section) publishes marketing pro- question, “Did the we might be heading. I’m a little hazy Arizona rule, which the first edition of gram, which was on some parts … I wasn’t intending to restricted legal Jay Foonberg’s built on research advertising, violate How to Start & by MIICORP, then chronicle the history, so I didn’t take the freedom of Build a Law the only market notes. But this is how I personally speech of Bates Practice. research firm remember it and, in turn, what I see and his firm as guar- specializing in law happening today and tomorrow. anteed by the First firm work. and Fourteenth Amendments?” October/November 2005 Law Practice 31
  4. 4. “ F I R S T, LE T ’ S S E LL A LL T H E L AW Y E R S ” But when the firm down the street had Strawn hired its public relations con- won national awards for creative law one, its competitors wanted one, too. sultant, Loren A. Wittner, to be the firm advertising. Boy, those were the Then came equally tedious nation’s first full-time marketing part- days. The innovation bar was so low newsletters, full of legal jargon and case ner, creating national news as the you could practically trip over it. citations. The target audience—busy playing field tilted. Wittner hired a Soon after, Howrey & Simon executives—wouldn’t touch them, but half-dozen in-house marketers, includ- launched the profession’s first image- firms kept churning them out, ordering ing me, thereby creating perhaps the advertising campaign, the brilliant overworked associates to rewrite recent first law firm marketing “department.” “Human Side of Genius” series. And memos into lengthy articles. NALFMA had around 300 miraculously, it worked, helping “Marketing strategy” back then members at this point. Wittner and I expand the firm’s reputation beyond typically meant “let’s see what everyone became co-chairs of the ABA’s national antitrust litigation. Still no pictures, else is doing, and do that, too.” Me-too Marketing Legal Services Committee. but it showed actual creativity. A high- marketing. Lawyers didn’t know how We were also the only members. quality corporate firm advertised and to market legal services but figured Membership soon doubled in size, to neither the firm nor the legal profes- that their competitors did, so they four, then doubled again, to eight. sion imploded. In fact, clients and just copied the flaccid competition. Corporate firms gingerly started to prospects noticed and approved, and Decisions and revisions were made in advertise, using text-only “we’re pleased the firm grew, prospered and diversi- large committees, in which every lawyer to announce” ads called “tombstones,” fied its practice. Other progressive had complete veto power over every designed like typewritten wedding firms took careful notice. plan, proposal and period. The lowest- invitations. At Winston & Strawn, we But progress comes in fits and common denominator prevailed, as the merged with a Washington, D.C., firm turns. Back then, I recall one of our most conservative lawyers volunteered and, following numerous tense market- branch office partners insisted on using for marketing committee duties, to ing committee meetings, we successfully Times Roman for his correspondence make sure the image and integrity of removed the words “pleased to instead of Courier, the standard font the firm wasn’t sullied and nothing was announce” from our merger announce- used by the nation’s typewriters. His tried that might actually work. ment ad—simply naming the firms and choice created a complete furor. Times Change was inevitable. using the word “merger” between Roman? But lawyers should use them—just to be a little different. Courier! Yeah, the transition to com- At the First Turn: Picking Up the Internally, it was seen as a huge risk: puters was hard on everyone. When Pace (But Still a Bumpy Ride) How would people know that you our marketing department requisi- Fittingly, change came as we entered were happy about the merger if you tioned an inexpensive color printer, we the next decade. In 1990, Winston & didn’t tell them? Nonetheless, the ad were informed that law firms don’t Legal Services Marketing Timeline 19 8 4 19 8 4 19 8 5 19 87 19 9 0 19 9 1 Van Nostrand McGuire Woods & ultimately results Holland & Hart Winston & Strawn Corporate law firm Reinhold publishes Battle’s black-and- in the 1985 forma- spices up a staid hires its public rela- advertising begins Robert W. white all-text tion of the brochure with a tions consultant, in earnest with Denney’s How to brochure gets the Legal Marketing surprising full-color Loren A. Wittner, to Howrey & Simon’s Market Legal nation’s attention in Association (then cartoon fold-out be the nation’s first groundbreaking Services. called the National map of the firm’s full-time marketing “Human Side of BusinessWeek Association of Law Rocky Mountain partner. Genius” national and The New Firm Marketing region. Color starts campaign. York Times. Administrators) in to appear in law San Diego, where firm brochures. Gray Carey’s Sally Schmidt Justine Jeffrey was elected the organizes a meet- organization’s first ing of 25 law firm president. marketing directors in San Francisco. The gathering 32 October/November 2005 Law Practice
  5. 5. The Unfortunate Era of the Truly Trite LIGHT BULBS CHESSBOARDS HANDSHAKES “sales” training (gasp) to big firms took off. Suddenly lawyers saw that it brought in business. 3 Smaller firms, with streamlined decision-making processes and greater risk-taking abilities, took larger calculated risks and won more business. 3 Firms started targeting their materials, creating tailored, well- 0“We have good ideas!” 0“We think strategically!” 0“We’re your partner!” researched new-business proposals for each new opportunity. They formed GLOBES BOXING GLOVES COLUMNS client teams and videotaped their presentation rehearsals. And the firms with the best strategy and materials started to win disproportionately high numbers of these competitive “beauty contests.” Meantime, back at Winston & Strawn, to pitch the business for Major League Baseball, we put our lawyers on 0“We did a deal in 0“We’re tough!” 0“We’re, uh, lawyers!” baseball cards and had them autograph Toronto once!” baseballs for the team owners. These became so popular that we had to reorder. The recipients started showing need color. At that time, sadly, they ment ad to actually use the lawyer’s them to their other private firm were probably right. photo was published about 1995, lawyers, proclaiming, “This is how a law That changed over the next five by Schiff Hardin & Waite. It gained firm should market!” Clearly, the clients years, fortunately, as firms began mar- attention for the headshot (even were ready to accept creative marketing keting in earnest with some new tactics: though the design tragically looked efforts long before most lawyers were 3 Others started to follow the early like an obituary). willing to offer it. adopters and logos started to have a 3 Some brochures and newsletters Five more years passed. Ads were dash of color. became more readable. Somewhat. next. Corporate Legal Times created a 3 The first new-hire announce- 3 Bill Flannery’s business offering platform targeting in-house lawyers, 19 9 2 19 9 5 19 9 6 1 9 97 2001 2005 The ABA LPM Coffield Ungaretti The ABA Law Red Street Larry Bodine Sales training, Section launches & Harris launches Practice Consulting (other- formalizes the blogging and pod- ABA Women its “Written Management wise known as Erik LawMarketing casting are among Rainmakers, Service Section publishes Heels and Rick Listserv. Even the new hot-button dedicated to Guarantee” the first edition Klau) launches managing partners marketing territo- providing market- campaign. of The Lawyer’s annual online tap into daily con- ries for lawyers. ing education and Guide to reviews of law versations among networking Marketing on firm Web sites, “a bunch of really opportunities. the Internet. grading them for smart legal market- appearance and ing directors trying functionality. to devise new ways to differenti- ate their firms in —Timeline prepared a crowded by Merrilyn Astin marketplace.” Tarlton October/November 2005 Law Practice 33
  6. 6. Your Silver Bullet and its aggressive sales staff convinced Focus, Focus, Focus t its core, marketing is simple. highly visible fish. For lawyers, that type firms to advertise with them. And firms gradually did, in greater numbers. The early ads were awful—every firm was A Identify the people most likely to hire you for the work you want to do, then develop close relationships with of narrow focus is the only silver bullet that exists. The more focused your target, the “big,” “smart,” “smart and big” or “big them to help them achieve their goals. easier it is to be successful faster. If your and smart” (cf. One-shot marketing activities do not goal is to be the best divorce or family But every tiny innovation was emulated create close relationships. And undiffer- lawyer in town, forget it—that’s too broad and improved on again by yet another entiated, Jack-of-All-Trade lawyers who and generic. Too many others are com- progressive competitor. market to everyone invariably must peting for that same turf and there’s likely As the ads improved, willing firms charge low rates. But if you have—or can a number of others who have been there saw more examples down the street to develop—expertise in a particular field, go for decades. Try developing a unique to the trade associations and show them practice focusing on representing only copy or another bar to step lightly over. that you have this expertise, you’ll be men, or only women. Or perhaps you can Marketing committees still retained full swamped for business. build a specialty practice representing control over the advertising images and Direct all your marketing efforts gay couples, or the elderly, or second messages, and thus began the unfortu- toward the target group. Find an appro- marriages. Whatever it is, become the nate era of the truly trite: priately small pond, well-stocked with go-to expert for something. 3 Light bulbs (“We have good ideas!”) clients, and work hard to become a big, 3 Chessboards (“We think strategically!”) 3 Handshakes (“We’re your partner!”) 3 Boxing gloves (“We’re tough!”) Service Guarantee” and nearly doubled gave away cute stuffed termites wearing 3 Globes (“We’re global!” or “We did a the firm’s revenue. We implemented T-shirts. Marketing the deal in Toronto once!”) the same message using both public Bug Lawyers? Like shooting fish in a 3 Columns (“We’re, uh, lawyers!”) relations and advertising. And our barrel or bugs in a … whatever. The 3 Running up courthouse steps brochure matched the mugs! The cam- international publicity generated both (“We’re late!”) paign generated enormous positive sizable firm revenue and demand for Many ads contained two, three or publicity in the legal and business similar industry-based campaigns. more (the trifecta) of these icons. press, and law firms saw that you could Corporate clients, having realized Translation: “Our tough lawyers have use a multifaceted marketing campaign that they had the buying power, started strategic, partner-y ideas all over to implement an actual strategy. We flexing their muscles, causing law firms the place!” won all the marketing awards that year to look for new ways to offer more Then, boom, Womble Carlyle (which might sound like I’m bragging, value. Differentiation became increas- turned a single ad with a cute bulldog but see the “low bar” comments above). ingly important. And firms started into a nationally renowned marketing I left Coffield Ungaretti & Harris to using those ideas as the foundation of mascot, and other prominent firms make a consulting career of helping their new collateral materials. Sadly, that took serious notice. other firms differentiate themselves message was rarely displayed in firms’ The gloves slowly came off. and, in 1997, through the first promi- first-generation Web sites, which typi- nent industry-based marketing pro- cally used photos of the firm’s: On the Next Leg: Different? gram, helped Alabama’s 10-lawyer 3 Office building (“We work in a Who? You? Crosslin Slaten & O’Connor become building!”) By the latter half of the ’90s, as com- The Bug Lawyers. The program fea- 3 Lobby (“We have couches!”) petition for corporate clients stiffened tured “Some lawyers don’t know their 3 Local city skyline (“We … oh, and firms needed to convey their ants from a hole in the ground” ads, never mind.”) worth, marketing’s focus became along with a Web site Since then, the competition for cor- differentiation. (sadly, currently offline), complete with porate mindshare has led to firms using By that time, I’d accepted a job at crawling termites and downloadable everything from Orrick’s proprietary Coffield Ungaretti & Harris as the checklists and animated cursors of bugs viral computer games to one firm’s nation’s second marketing partner. In chewing away at the firm’s logo. Our realistic-looking hand-grenade mailers. 1995-96, we offered the first “Written pest control-industry tradeshow booth (Okay, they probably should have recon- 34 October/November 2005 Law Practice
  7. 7. “ F I R S T, LE T ’ S S E LL A LL T H E L AW Y E R S ” sidered that last one. By definition, great mountains. The sky’s become the limit just putting them to use in different marketing doesn’t cause clients to evacu- in advertising. and much, much better ways. Let’s ate their buildings.) But look at any collection of lawyer take a look. Oh, and along the way, “branding” marketing and you’ll still see plenty of became a buzzword, then a noxious globes, gavels, handshakes and columns. 3 Printed brochures. The firm fad. Although it remains a powerful Some things just don’t change. brochure has ceded agonizing practice- strategy, it’s now called differentiation But on the other hand, plenty of area details to the Web site. Today’s or positioning. things do. brochure is a shorter image piece— Today international law firms are a medium for the firm’s message. Its marketing as innovatively and aggres- Beyond Brochures: What the intriguing cover compels you to open it, sively as our corporate clients, using the Innovators Are Doing Today and the style, graphics and tightly full range of tools. Think global client Unlike passé clipart images, all the old written text demonstrate the firm’s teams, lead-generation professionals, fundamentals of marketing still work. unique differentiation. client extranets, direct mail, secund- The best of the current generation is Litigation boutique Segal ment and Internet micro-sites. And those advertisements that Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney Bates and O’Steen suffered for? The cor- porate counsel-targeting magazines are now so choked with vibrantly colored advertisements that desperate firms will do almost anything to get noticed. Their ads use eye-popping photos of yellow rubber duckies, wacky doggies wearing turtlenecks and cute widdle wide-eyed babies. Some implement a well-defined This juror thinks And it’s our job to help her understand the epidemio- strategy, but most seem simply to be “Myria “Myriad” was a girl logical distinctions between saying, “Look at me! Look at me!” (If I mild tricuspid valvular saw an ad next month showing a naked from her fourth- regurgitation, endothelialized founding partner named Ralph, I wouldn’t flinch. I might ralph, but I grade class. foreign matter, and bacterial wouldn’t flinch.) Lawyers surfing, kiss- endocarditis. 7 ing, climbing up or rappelling down 0Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney, for McCambridge example, defends insurance companies Singer & Mahoney, in complex mass tort class actions on its Web site ( involving difficult issues of law, medi- and in other mater- cine, biology and science. The firm’s ials, uses humor to “We make the complex simple” mes- convey that the firm sage resonates with its sophisticated cuts through the clients, who know they must tell a com- arcane jargon of pelling story in a way that an average tort litigation so the people in the jury juror would find persuasive. The box can understand humor the firm employs to drive home the facts at issue. its message in its ads is echoed in its brochure and on its Web site, too. October/November 2005 Law Practice 35
  8. 8. 3 Newsletters. Firm newsletters are still useful ways of staying in touch with sizable numbers of clients and prospects, but lengthy stories detailing the firm’s proud internal accomplish- ments? Not so much of those anymore. The newsletters now are shorter, more timely and focused on useful tips. They’re designed and written in an easy-to-read style, with pieces like “Top Ten Tips for [Doing Something Useful],” or “Five New Ways to Avoid [Some Disaster],” or other how-tos to help readers do their jobs better, save money or stay out of trouble. They go by both snail-mail and e-mail, to ensure that readers get the product in the format they want. And they are “periodic,” with “alerts” sent to take advantage of urgent occurrences. 3 Relationship marketing. Studies show that it takes between 7 and 20 per- sonal meetings to get from first contact to new business. And that’s in addition to all the “broadcast” marketing activi- ties like advertising, articles, Web sites, speeches and the like. Think of all that audience understand more about you— matter? “This isn’t 0Childress Duffy Goldblatt ads effort and you’re forced to answer the how you’re different from other firms. important, but I make the point Big Question: Who are you targeting? The language describes the firm’s think I’ll call a that the firm serves “Well, Ross, I’m a general commercial uniqueness, not its “hands-on, value- lawyer anyway”?) as its clients’ litigator, and I have a national practice.” added, business-oriented record of Laner Muchin, David against (C’mon, does every litigator have a achievement.” Colorado’s Orten & a midsize labor and Goliath insurance companies. “national practice”?) Okay, so you’re Hindman, for example, exclusively rep- employment firm selling a general service to 270 million resents community and homeowners in Chicago, touts its incredible respon- people. And you have to see them 7 to associations, and its “Strength in siveness and vows to return every client 20 times each. Then what are you doing Association” tag line makes that point call in two hours or less. Its tag line? reading this magazine? You have net- with a clever double entendre. Chicago’s “Two hours. Period.” Those words working to do! Get out there! Shoo! Childress Duffy Goldblatt, a small firm quickly tell how the firm differs from its But seriously, for all the innovative that specializes in suing insurance com- equally skilled competitors. And the marketing tools and strategies, law panies that fail to pay insureds’ claims two-hour strategy, as a stylized clock, is remains a profession built on close, following disasters, uses “Your designed into the firm’s logo, too. trusted, personal relationships. And Insurance Against Insurance.” Effective tag lines can even extend that point is so important it’s been dif- These slogans are intriguing. to law school and lateral recruiting. ferentiated (that word again) as a side- They’re different. They’re icebreakers. Levenfeld Pearlstein, an aggressive bar. Read it on page 34—now. And they’re a heckuva lot better than transactional firm, is advertising and insipid things like “Committed to sending direct mail to targeted lateral 3 Tag lines. These short slogans are Client Service” or “When Results candidates showing them as robots, popular and, done well, help your target Matter.” (Tell me, when don’t results cogs or sheep inside their current firms 36 October/November 2005 Law Practice
  9. 9. “ F I R S T, LE T ’ S S E LL A LL T H E L AW Y E R S ” and as exhilarated high-divers at Levenfeld Pearlstein. This is not your grandfather’s law firm. 3 Industry-based marketing. It works. Lawyers do extremely well by identify- ing an industry group they enjoy serv- ing and becoming the go-to lawyer for that group. Noland Hamerly Etienne & Hoss is a 20-lawyer firm that works in the heart of central California’s agriculture belt. Together, the lawyers had marketed themselves as a general practice firm, 0Levenfeld but we convinced them that the biggest Pearlstein targets room for profitable growth in their law school and lateral recruits with community was the region’s dominant How valued do you feel at your current firm? a series of ads agriculture industry. The firm’s agricul- showing that they’ll Want more out of your career? Why grind away as a disposable cog at your firm when you can be a ture practice became “The Lettuce vital, active participant in Levenfeld Pearlstein? We know who we are, we know who we want, and we be challenged know where we're going. We are everything most firms are not. So, if you are everything most lawyers Lawyers,” with a subtly modified logo in aren't, contact Bryan Schwartz, Chairman, at or 312.346.8380 right now. and exhilarated at which the ampersand sprouts leaves and the firm—not treated like grows. Plus, the practice group gives Levenfeld Pearlstein. Are you Levenfeld material? cog-in-the-wheel away logo’d seed packets as business 2 North LaSalle Street, Chicago, IL 60602 commodities. T. 312 346 8380 cards and logo’d leather work gloves and bib overalls instead of coffee mugs. Another interesting example is New Orleans’ Gordon, Arata, McCollam, Duplantis & Eagan, a highly skilled firm of nice lawyers with dominant practices in litigation and big oil and gas. Our research showed that the firm’s clients actually enjoyed working with the lawyers, even for high-stakes litigation. Thus, the firm’s tag line is now “Lawyers You Want to Know,” a double entendre conveying the lawyers’ technical skills and genial personalities. The firmwide ads show how much clients like the lawyers, and the oil and gas ads show how well the lawyers understand the industry. 3 Web sites. Nearly every firm has one by now, and some firms have more than one for different purposes. The best ones stand for something and show why the firm is unique. The Sarasota, Florida, firm Williams Parker October/November 2005 Law Practice 37
  10. 10. “ F I R S T, LE T ’ S S E LL A LL T H E L AW Y E R S ” 0 To help attract markets trust, safety and security—a formed how marketers think as much local lawyers to its good background message for its trust as what they do. I can’t even guess 10 new Atlanta office, Florida’s Carlton and estate practice, as well as real estate. years down the road. But three years? Fields cleverly Including your message is key. Okay, I’ll inch out onto the limb. combines clichés What not to include? I’ve said it before, Blogs, those easily updated and of both states into and I’ll say it again. No columns, com- participatory Web sites, are the best a visually powerful passes, currency, gavels or globes, marketing tool since sliced bread—at series of ads. beakers or briefcases. Not in your least according to some seemingly 0 Gordon, Arata advertisements, not in your brochures, knowledgeable pundits. I suspect they focuses in on the and not on your Web site, please! No will end up like Web sites—wildly double message one shaking hands or sprinting up effective for the early adopters, a gener- that its lawyers are courthouse steps. Instead, look at the ally useful tool for everyone else. beloved by clients and highly skilled in examples in this article. People and Podcasting may be the next great the mechanics of images that center on the focused, dif- thing, although I’m still not sure exactly the firm’s oil and ferentiating message. That’s what wins what it is. But look for it to become gas practice. share of mind. very popular, especially among service providers who don’t know what it is Off to the Unbeaten Trail: either but will want to sell it to you. What’s Next Seminars and conferences will still Crystal balls don’t work well. In the work, but they will become smaller and working lifetime of many of us, tech- more targeted (a 10- or 20-person roll- nology that was unimaginable at the up-your-sleeves breakfast briefing). time of the Bates decision has trans- They will also migrate more and more 38 October/November 2005 Law Practice
  11. 11. to the Internet, as Webinars that save 0The “Lettuce on time and money for everybody. Lawyers” at Noland Hamerly speak Market research will gain in savvily to their acceptance, but most law firms have agricultural clients the budget to either do something or with this play on measure something—not both. One Grant Woods’ exception is megafirm O’Melveny & classic “American Gothic.” See how Myers, which just hired Mark T. the ampersand in Greene, Ph.D., a nationally known the practice’s logo market researcher. sprouts leaves. Business development will supple- ment the historic marketing com- munications efforts. “Biz dev” is a euphemism for sales, in the client- specific way that accounting firms have long marketed. Generating leads, measuring ROI, strategically targeting specific clients for acquisition, the full range of sales efforts. This is tangible and meaningful. Cross-selling—which is vague, threatening, overwhelmingly, unsuccessful—is not meaningful. Neither, for the most part, are client service teams, although everybody says they want them. Shorter names will be the rule at do that, remove your butt from your more firms, fragile partner egos not- office chair. withstanding. In savvier firms the clear And predatory pitches, in which trend is to emphasize the colloquial firms strategically decide whom they street name—the one clients and want to represent and then find a way prospects know. Think of “Skadden” or to steal that client away from a com- “Skadden Arps” instead of “Skadden petitor, will enjoy significant success. A Arps Slate Meagher & Flom,” which the key part of this is communication and poor receptionist would traditionally presentation skills training, teaching pronounce “Skadnarpslameagrunflom.” lawyers both to improve their presen- Need more proof? Go to tation style and learn to form closer and pretend you’re the receptionist. relationships more quickly. Marketing training will heat up. What else do I see? The possibili- Bringing in business is innate for a ties are endless. The one thing I know firm’s internal sales force, those we call for sure is that we’ve only begun. rainmakers. But for others, it’s a teach- Lettuce Law? Two-hour return-call able skill. Indiana-based Barnes & guarantees? Oil-rigging lawyers? Thornburg just completed marketing John Bates, now a client of mine, training for lawyers in all eight offices. bless his heart, is still smiling. LP Simple things like how to network and work a room are hot topics, summa- Ross Fishman ( is Chief Exceleration Officer of Ross Fishman rized most basically as “shut up and lis- Marketing, Inc., based in Highland Park, IL, ten, for a change.” And once you can (847) 432-3546. October/November 2005 Law Practice 39