The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing Your Practice
Book review by LaVonne Lawson
(County Bar Update, January 2005, Vol. 25, No. 1)

 

The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing Your Practice

 

More than just a how-to book, the guide provides lawyers with a map for business development and marketing

 

Reviewed by LaVonne Lawson, member, Law Practice Management Section Executive Committee. Lawson specializes in handling tax and related business matters. She can be reached at LL@Lawsontax.com. The opinions expressed are her own.

 

The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing Your Practice is a must-read for any lawyer who wants to build or maintain a law practice. The guide addresses a number of diverse questions: How do I get more clients? How do I raise my public image? How do I plan for the future? A compilation of articles composed by consultants and coaches, this book can help professionals at any point in their careers, whether read from cover to cover, sporadically, or in parts.

 

The guide breaks down marketing into four sections: developing your approach, enhancing your image, implementing marketing strategies, and maintaining your program.

 

Developing Your Approach

 

Many lawyers, still uncomfortable with the notion that law practice marketing is an indispensable activity, can find help in identifying and overcoming many of the barriers to business development. This section emphasizes that without a well-crafted strategic marketing plan, time spent marketing will almost always be unfocused, ineffective, or even wasted. A strategic marketing plan should go beyond increasing the number and satisfaction of high-quality clients; it should attempt to identify important markets and opportunities that will emerge in the coming years. A well-thought-out plan recognizes that clients are not just customers but also allies and important resources.

 

In addition to providing a strategic marketing plan, this section introduces a results-oriented client feedback program that, when properly implemented, can enhance the bottom line.

 

Enhancing Your Image

 

This section frankly discusses the roles that public relations efforts and visual images play in the life of lawyers. "PR" is not just for large law firms anymore, and a press release is now just one piece in a well-stocked public relations arsenal.

 

Many activities that raise a firm or practitioner's profile, which can be tailored to fit specific needs, include publicity of deals and cases, first- and third-party commentary, reporter meetings, and publishing opportunities. However, blindly implementing these activities isn't a guarantee of success. Conducted inconsistently or outside of a marketing plan framework, these efforts will deliver mixed results at best. This book provides such frameworks and delivers nuts-and-bolts tips on dealing with public relations issues such as talking with reporters or protecting clients in a crisis.

 

A firm's visual image should not be overlooked. Enhancing a firm's visual image in its communications can make marketing easier and more effective. This section reviews the various marketing publications -- newsletters, firm brochures, announcements -- and their roles in the firm's image, describing what works and why.

 

Implementing Marketing Strategies

 

After placing activities within a strategic plan, the book then describes how to effectively use various tools. For example, writing is a powerful tool for creating public awareness, and this section covers works as broad as a series of books or as narrow as a thank-you note. It addresses basic considerations about writing -- what to write, how to write it, how to choose a publication, and how to convince the editor -- and offers ideas on leveraging the written piece.

 

Although writing is important, most marketing efforts also depend upon the spoken word, which the book divides into two types: sales dialogue and public speaking. This section identifies where sales dialogues occur and how to leverage them, including creating good opportunities for follow-up. It also identifies public speaking as a prime marketing tool; while most consider it an opportunity to educate others, public speaking also can communicate to others that you are the correct person to handle their needs.

 

Technology has a role to play, too. Chapters specifically focus on the increasingly vital roles that Internet marketing and blogs (Web logs) play in the marketing strategy.

 

Maintaining Your Program

 

Creating a strategic marketing plan and implementing it is just the beginning. Marketing programs must be maintained over time to produce maximum results. The best-sounding and most ambitious plan is of little value if a firm's lawyers cannot consistently maintain their efforts. This section advocates marketing training as a component of every firm's business development or strategic plan.

 

Finally, there is no question that ethical questions arise in client development, and this section addresses these aspects. More than just a how-to book, The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing Your Practice is a business development and marketing map. An accompanying CD-ROM contains checklists, plans, and templates, making navigation of the route that much easier.

 

The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing Your Practice

edited by James A. Durham and Deborah McMurray

published by ABA Law Practice Management Section, second edition, 2004

$89.95, 310 pages

 

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