Building business in the post-crash economy

Issue April 2010

by Jennifer Rosinski

To bring on new clients and make more money, legal marketing needs to focus on the value it can offer clients, not legal jargon that emphasizes practice areas and experience. That was the common-sense message from Dustin A. Cole, a nationally renowned legal coach who presented a three-hour marketing class.

"We're no longer in an economy of abundance. We're now in an economy that's rising from the ashes," said Cole.

Ensuring success during this tumultuous time takes an approach that may be foreign to most attorneys: packaging what you can offer into a value-driven message, Cole said. A family law attorney is not a "divorce lawyer," but someone who "helps people through difficult family times." Cole said attorneys need to alter their approach in addition to considering all of their prospects, increasing visibility and adding referral sources by networking and building friendships.

The method worked for Alan J. Klevan, who operates a firm with his wife in Wellesley, and Jay Shepherd of the Shepherd Law Group PC in Boston.

Cole helped Klevan develop a plan to leave his old firm and start his own practice. "Within six months, I doubled my highest salary at the law firm," Klevan said.

Shepherd credits Cole with assisting him in "building an enterprise" rather than succeeding at a job. Shepherd's goal was to free himself from the billable hour - which he did four years ago. "Since working with Dustin, I've literally tripled the firm's revenue," Shepherd said.