Shouting Into the Wind – How Not to Market Your Solo/Small Firm

Shouting into the wind

Marketing is job #1 for small firm attorneys and solos. It’s a simple equation: no marketing = no clients, and no clients = no firm. But, quite frankly, marketing can really suck.

There’s a cacophony of BigLaw websites, advertising, and social media drowning out small firm voices. And then there are about a million new small firm sites every single day. Not to mention that referrals from other lawyers and professionals can be tough to come by when everyone knows an attorney or ten who do what you do. And don’t forget the do-it-yourself options like LegalZoom and Findlaw.

How do you make yourself heard amongst all that noise? There’s no point shouting into the wind. You can’t make yourself louder than everyone else, so don’t bother trying.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have a website or social media or advertising. Not at all! I’m saying that you have to actually be different from everyone else if you want to get noticed.

Look, my firm is an odd duck. My partner, Davey Jay, and I aren’t typical by any stretch. We are women lawyers in a small firm practicing in areas of law that are traditionally BigLaw and male-dominated: business law (me) and entertainment law (Davey). We aren’t in a big office building Downtown, either. We just moved into a converted house in the Mills 50 District of Orlando. Our office decor can best be described as “eclectic.” We only wear suits if we have to go to court. Our website is as non-lawyer-y as we could make it. Our logo is our initials turned into a freaking smiley face, for God’s sake. And you know what? It works for us.

The clients that come to us generally do so because we aren’t like every other law firm they looked at online. They were looking for women lawyers, or they were looking for a different message or a different feel. They found us because we are what they were looking for. Moreover, the lawyers and accountants and insurance agents that send clients our way refer to us because we are different from the other lawyers they often refer to, and they send us specific clients because they feel like we are a better fit.

Davey and I do a pretty successful seminar series where we take over a local watering hole or coffee shop and talk about some aspect of the law to whoever shows up. Honestly, a lot of the material gets recycled from one talk to the next (there are only so many ways to talk about copyrights whether we’re discussing starting a small business or music law). The audience varies from existing clients and referral sources to complete strangers who found our event on Facebook or even passersby who heard us start talking and took a seat. We are good public speakers and we’re passionate about what we do. We can be pretty funny when we want and we banter back and forth, making a dry topic a little less painful to sit through. It works for us.

We aren’t afraid to post on social media about the things we care about. We post about the firm and case law and events, of course. The law, business, film, and music industry stuff, even politics – it’s all fair game. We also post goofy selfies and memes we find amusing. We have pretty good post engagement and shares. Again, it works for us.

In short, we are ourselves. We don’t try to be what we think a “real” law firm should look like or sound like or act like. Clients respond to us because we are relatable, professional and good at what we do.

I’m guessing you do not routinely pose like an Olan Mills portrait of your dad while sitting in front of a library full of law books. Or stand in a superhero pose in front of the courthouse. Or even have a gavel or scales in your office. If you’re a typical small firm or solo lawyer, you probably haven’t been in an actual law library in a while, and your office doesn’t overlook the city skyline. So why put that crap on your website or marketing materials? What on earth do those things tell a client about YOU?

So what I am telling you is this: if you want to stand apart from the herd, you can’t look like all the other sheep. Quit acting like every other lawyer out there. Be genuine. Be real. Be yourself.

All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.

This entry was posted in Client Relations, Guest Bloggers, Marketing, Savvy Solos and tagged suzanne meehle. Bookmark the permalink.

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One comment on “Shouting Into the Wind – How Not to Market Your Solo/Small Firm

  • Best advice: Be real.

    Not only will lawyers enjoy their practice more but clients will show more appreciation and give better reviews. Clients have no real way to judge their lawyer’s skill (besides the outcome) when you stop to think about it. So it comes down to how accessible the lawyer is and whether he or she makes the client feel stupid or taken for granted.#Clientexperience matters

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