Don't document; Tell a story

In most areas of legal practice, being thorough is an important element of doing a good job. In fact meticulous attention to detail is one of the best ways to avoid committing malpractice.

At the same time, getting bogged down in details can be detrimental when you are trying to market your law practice. Rattling off 15 different practice areas when you describe what you do is generally ineffective. 

Advertisers understand this. An effective commercial will highlight one or two key benefits of a product or service and then the commercial will be repeated over and over again so that the message sticks. Successful politicians do the same thing with political ads.

This has  to do with the limitations of human memory. Most of us are unable to recall a barrage of information, particularly if it is not put into some kind of context. Stories, in particular, are easier to recall. 

Therefore, when describing what you do as a lawyer, don't just list everything you have worked on in the past six months.  You are under no obligation to do so. Instead,  decide what you want to be known for and talk about that. Give an illustration or two of the kinds of problems that you solve. Tell a good story. Resist the urge to simply document what you have done. 

If you keep your messages simple and focus on just a couple of practice areas where you have expertise (particularly the areas that are most relevant to the prospect), then people you meet are much more likely to remember you and remember what you do.  If you communicate in the way you draft documents for a closing, you may get high marks for accuracy; but don't expect that person to remember you when they have a need.

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

Published January 26, 2012


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.
©2017 Massachusetts Bar Association