November 15, 2012
Attorneys and law firms should develop an overall plan for building and maintaining their law practice. Before getting down to specifics, the attorney should determine the areas of focus, identify his or her professional interests, and attempt to align those interests with the needs of the specific geographic or industrial marketplace. Each attorney should develop their own formal written marketing plan, and all of the marketing plans should be combined into a firm-wide plan which can be used as the basis for making decisions regarding larger marketing expenses, including sponsorship of seminars, engagement of public relations consultants, and hiring of an in-house marketing director.
Successful marketing begins with visibility, and the attorney should take steps to create and maintain a positive public image. A variety of strategies may be used. For example, the attorney might demonstrate his or her expertise through presentations and seminars, publishing articles and books, press coverage, targeted mailings, and Web sites. It is important for the attorney or firm to seek “strategic alliances” with other persons or groups who can assist in the networking process. Traditionally, strategic alliances include membership in trade associations, professional associations, alumni organizations, civic and charitable groups, the local chamber of commerce, and recreational clubs.
An often ignored, yet valuable, marketing tool for attorneys is a “business development presentation”, which takes the form of a thoughtful outline or script that the attorney can use with appropriate groups to explain his or her areas of practice and the value that he or she can provide to prospective clients. When creating a business developing presentation the attorney should put together a series of slides that explain his or her practice and, most importantly, demonstrate how the attorney can provide support in key areas such as governance and compliance, product development and commercialization activities, contract management, finance and employment laws.
Creating business development presentations is a topic that doesn’t get enough attention in law schools or in most small or mid-sized law firms. There are a number of books and articles available on the general topic of “business development presentations”, although many of those materials are either generic or meant to cover presentations for non-legal services. You can find some resources that I have created for specifically for legal businesses on Beyond the Bar and on Westlaw Next as part of my Business Transactions Solutions publication. For attorneys working in a law firm, guidance should be sought from the firm’s marketing department in putting the “presentation package” together. It is also important to conduct a regularly scheduled review of presentation materials to make sure that they remain timely and topical.