5 Reasons Lawyers Don’t Market Themselves
Marketing your legal services is similar to going to the gym regularly. You know you’re supposed to do, you know it would be beneficial to you to do, your doctor is telling you to do it, so why do lawyers resist marketing themselves?
The answer is more or less the same reason people won’t go to the gym even though they know they should – it’s a mindset dilemma.
Lawyers believe that it is not okay to market themselves. Before we dive into strategies on how to shift your mindset, it’s essential to understand WHY lawyers refuse to market themselves.
1) A False Belief That Marketing Conflicts with Ethics Guidelines of the ABA
The American Bar Association and State Bar Associations have ethics guidelines when it comes to marketing your law firm, and it is important to follow the rules of the national organization and your state. However, to be clear, this is not an excuse to NOT market your law firm. It just gives limitations; for example, you cannot proclaim that you are the best lawyer.
Don’t use excuses to cover up the real reasons you’re uncomfortable marketing your legal services.
2) Denying the Efficacy of Legal Marketing
There are many reasons why lawyers falsely believe that marketing for a law firm just won’t work, and most of them have to do with the fact that lawyers are not taught how to run a business and have no idea how to effectively marketing.
I’ve seen it time and time again, a lawyer decides that it’s time to market their services, but they put no time into researching what works and what doesn’t, so they mimic what someone else is doing, and the marketing plan fails. The failure bruises the lawyer’s ego, and he or she declares that marketing doesn’t work.
The marketing failed for two reasons.
- The lawyer based their strategy on what other people are doing. You cannot stand out if you are doing what other people are doing. Be more strategic about your marketing; it’s well worth taking time out of your time to do some research.
- The lawyer isn’t tracking their data, so they genuinely have no idea whether or not their marketing worked and just assumed it didn’t. Some marketing strategies take months to see the outcome; it’s foolish to throw in the towel after two weeks.
3) Fear of Judgement by Peers
Whether you refuse to accept client calls at 8:00 PM or raise your prices to create a profitable practice – lawyers are shamed by peers when they put themselves first. By putting yourself first, you’re going to face some negative naysayers who, because of what they are taught in law school, believe that every lawyer should be working 70-hour workweeks, accept every client that asks for help, and silently wait to sign clients.
That is utterly and absolutely not true. You are responsible for your happiness, and you need to design your life to fulfill all of your needs, both emotional and financial. Create rules for yourself that enable you to work with clients you enjoy working with, spend your free time with your family, and have time for hobbies. It’s okay, I promise you. I hereby give you full permission to prioritize your life and your happiness.
This likely means that you need to raise your prices and refer out low-value cases. Bottom line: you cannot help clients if you go out of business. I don’t know many people who became lawyers to become rich. Many of us have an authentic desire to help people. You’re not helping anyone if you are miserable and chronically stressed about how you’re going to pay your bills next month.
4) Lawyers Are Taught Not to Stand Out
Every lawyer, whether they’re twenty-five or eighty-five, has heard the saying, “Do good work, and the clients will come.” I’m not going to mince words here, that message is dangerous to the solo and small firm attorney.
Why? Because it’s B.S., You could be the best lawyer in the country and an undisputed expert in your practice area, but if no one knows you exist, then no one is going to hire you.
How many lawyers in your area are you competing with for clients? What is going to make that client choose you over the competition? Right now, it might be nothing, and you’re wondering why a particular law firm is getting the most clients. It’s because they are marketing themselves as the best option to help someone with their legal services, and you need to do the same.
5) Failure to See a Law Firm as a Business
If you own a law firm, you are a business owner. Take your lawyer hat off for a while and accept that you are an entrepreneur. It is YOUR responsibility to pay your business expenses, have money for payroll, and provide for your family.
It’s time to stop working in the business and start working on the business. You cannot fulfill the realms of your life without money, and you are not making money if you’re not attracting clients. Even if you are treading water right now, you will reach a point where marketing is essential for your business to succeed.
Treat yourself as a leader. Create a law firm where staff members are excited about coming into work, and clients become raving fans for life.
How to Shift Your Mindset and Begin Marketing
It’s been argued that the type of people you surround yourself with is the number one predictor of success. Even if you don’t agree that it’s the number one reason, you must admit that it is a significant factor in determining success.
This is why it is irresponsible of you to surround yourself with small-minded and pessimistic people.
Now, let me be clear, I do NOT mean to ask the income level of everyone you meet to decide if they’re up to snuff to further a friendship or partnership with. Success is not defined by income. A successful person is someone who is happy with the life they have designed for themselves. They don’t complain and make excuses; they are doers.
Are you ambitious about wanting a better law firm but want to make the right moves forward instead of costly mistakes to preserve and increase profit?
Join a community of people like you who are making conscious decisions to grow their business. Share ideas with people who are facing similar challenges and learn from those who have made it out on the other side.
Most attorneys start their firms assuming that being a really, really good attorney should, in and of itself, be a marketing advantage. Those attorneys believe that joining a whole bunch of committees and putting their name in lawyer directories is “marketing,” and they never bother to ask if there is a better way.
Attorneys are catching on, however, and those who succeed learn to leverage their current resources to create effective (and ethical) marketing. What they discover isn’t a magic pill or silver bullet but a different approach to marketing that your competitors haven’t considered.
by Ben Glass
Ben is a nationally recognized expert in attorney marketing and the owner of Great Legal Marketing.