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Connecting the silos in your law firm

A big marketing challenge for law firms is to figure out how to speak with one voice. Unlike businesses where the products or services are easily described, a law firm may offer a broad mix of intangible services. So even a partnership with five attorneys might have the expertise to handle over two dozen types of matters.

In reality, however, there is no effective way for five lawyers to communicate two dozen services to the legal marketplace. A successful marketing strategy needs to be considerably more focused. Rattling off 20 things when someone asks what you do is simply not effective. It does little to differentiate you from any other law firm; and it ensures that you will be completely unmemorable.

A better strategy is to do some assessment and planning and decide where you might get the most return on your marketing investment. In other words ask yourselves:

  • Which practice areas does the firm want to grow?
  • Where do the partners believe they have the best opportunities to generate new business (i.e. taking into account the realities of the marketplace)?
  • Given the relationships that partners have with potential clients and referral sources, where are the best opportunities to go prospecting?

Businesses in most other industries (including accounting firms and other professional services providers), understand the importance of taking the time to do this kind of planning periodically.

Unfortunately, many law firm partnerships never take the time to have these discussions. A lot of law firms operate more like an association of service providers who share expenses. Each lawyer stays in his or her own silo and not much is decided on a firm-wide or even practice group level.

But a group of lawyers can market much more effectively as a firm. By focusing on the "best opportunities" and by getting every partner on the "same page", a firm can increase the likelihood that its message is getting through the noise. And with the increased competition in the legal marketplace and the explosion of email marketing and social media in the past decade, this is no easy feat.

So how does your firm measure up? Have you taken the time to survey the partners in your firm and come up with a consensus about where the firm should focus its marketing energies? Do you all describe the firm in the same way? One place to start is to use a marketing audit tool that appeared in Law Practice Magazine several years ago. If that doesn't move the conversation forward, then maybe it is time to get some outside help.

Tip courtesy of Stephen Seckler, president, Seckler Legal Consulting and Coaching.

Published August 30, 2012

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To learn more about the Law Practice Management Section, which is complimentary for all MBA members, contact LPM Section Chair Thomas J. Barbar or Vice Chair Stephen Seckler.
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