It used to be, that all a lawyer had to do to attract new business was to be a great lawyer for her clients. Those clients would then tell their family, friends, co-workers, etc., about the great job that the lawyer did for them. Then, when those people required legal services, they might contact that lawyer. They might also have asked other friends and colleagues what they thought about the lawyer’s reputation. They would typically do this over lunch, at the club, or on the phone.
Even today, to a large extent, this is how many people find out about a particular lawyer. However, in addition to (not instead of) hearing about a lawyer’s services via word-of-mouth, they might also hear about the lawyer in other ways.
They might see a friend describing their experience with their lawyer on Facebook.
They might read an article written by a lawyer on a news or legal website.
And even when people first hear about a lawyer via word of mouth, it’s becoming more and more common for them to search for more information about the lawyer online. They Google the lawyer’s name. And what they find when they search (and what they don’t find), might matter to them in their decision to contact the lawyer about their legal situation.
There are also people that don’t yet know whether or not they even need a lawyer.
They might have legal or quasi-legal questions to which they are seeking answers. And, for both better and worse, they turn to the internet to get answers to their questions.
And, at least on occasion, they will come across some helpful legal blog post, web page, Q&A forum, etc., that answers their question and satisfies their demand for information. Sometimes these answers are supplied by a lawyer that has experience handling their type of legal situation. And sometimes the answer is so on-point that the person contacts the lawyer to learn more. And yes, sometimes they even hire the lawyer.
Still don’t believe me? Watch what this smart guy (no FTC, Mark didn’t pay me to write that) has to say:
For my part, none of this is intended to imply that lawyers need to be blogging, using social networking tools, or otherwise publishing or participating online at all.
You probably can’t easily count the number of Luddite lawyers you know that are in no need of new business and spend almost all of their time being great lawyers for their clients without having published a single word online.
But maybe this is beginning to change. After all, how many lawyers can you count that don’t have a cell phone? How many that don’t use email? My guess is that the answer is not many.
And of course, there was a time that these communication technologies weren’t very common. Nor were client expectations that lawyers use these technologies to communicate with them. Can one be a great lawyer and completely ignore the world changing around them? Maybe. But those lawyers will be hard-pressed in terms of efficiency for their clients. And they will be hard-pressed in terms of meeting their rising demand for information and access.
Businesses all over the world, that have never even remotely thought of themselves as authors and publishers, are undergoing a transformation–as are business professionals. And while there is little question that the practice of law is, in many respects, very different from other business, so too can there be little question that demonstrating one’s expertise by supplying a demand for information online isn’t just a marketing strategy. It is becoming an expectation.
Becoming a Lawyer Author Publisher Marketer
Let’s not kid ourselves. For many lawyers, writing can be hard. It can be uncomfortable. Many lawyers have very little formal training or experience in writing for the web. Furthermore, who has the time? Most lawyers barely have enough time in the day to do their jobs, let alone writing blog posts, answering questions, and otherwise participating online.
Yet somehow, lawyers make time for networking events, phone calls, responding to emails and doing a host of other client relationship development and nurturing activities.
The truth is, many just don’t see the value of the web. And those that see some value certainly don’t elevate it to the same status as other “real” communication, networking and business development activities. But what many don’t realize, is that it doesn’t have to be that hard or take that much time. Often, with just a little assistance, even the most technically unsound lawyers can be very effective online authors and publishers. Believe me, I know some of them. In fact, I bet you can go a long way without even leaving this site.
If you’re still confused, overwhelmed, or just flat-out skeptical, let’s talk sometime.
Like it or not, the web is here. And whether it be kicking and screaming, or informed and confident, you’re probably going to get dragged in.