Recently one of the readers of this blog posted a comment about Grant Griffiths, a lawyer in Kansas who has abandoned advertising altogether in favor of writing his blog (thanks Whitney). See the article at Kansas Family & Divorce Lawyer. This is a great article for anyone who sells their knowledge, skill or expertise, because this attorney credits his blog for giving him a number one Google ranking under the keyword, "Kansas family law."

One of the reasons I tend to harp on the flaws I see in law firm advertising in this blog is because I used to practice law. As both a former private practice attorney and a copywriter, I can say that law firms have the worst marketing of any industry or profession I know of.

Whether you are looking at ads placed in the Wall Street Journal by 700 lawyer "blue chip" firms or the Yellow Page ads placed by small main street firms, the ads are almost always dismal. I swear these people wouldn't know a benefit if it came up and bit them on the nose.

And they all follow the same format: "we are a trusted name in admiralty law," "we can get you money if you are hurt in an automobile accident," "we handle cases in elder law, personal injury, corporate law, mergers and aquisitions, DUI defense, etc."

The ads are either empty boasts or laundry lists of the areas of law they practice. (And by the way, you probably won't find the same firm practicing admiralty law, mergers and aquisitions and DUI defense).

So how CAN a law firm market itself effectively without diminishing its professionalism? Easy, write and give out free information pieces.

If you are a lawyer start saving all the memos and briefs you write. Also save your research notes and cases you find interesting as you prepare for court. With few exceptions, these materials can be rewritten for lay audiences and turned into white papers, tip sheets, brochures, articles for your website, or articles you can submit to trade magazines, etc.

You can also start a blog like our friend in Kansas. Write two to three paragraphs a day on your field of practice and in not too many months your site will have a very high number of visitors every day.

Frankly, I would like to see the day when I do at least two-thirds of my copywriting work for law firms. I know from personal experience that it is a wonderful profession when you are working with clients you like and doing the kind of work you believe in. But it is an extremely stressful way to make a living if you have to accept unpleasant clients or take on unpleasant cases just to keep the doors open.

COPYRIGHT © 2006, Charles Brown


It's always mystified me that law firms do such a poor job of making a case for themselves, for why someone should pick them instead of their competitor across town.

When you think about it, that's what lawyers do for a living -- they present a case and argue for it. I once met a lawyer who deftly summarized the crux of his argument for a copyright infringement case in two sentences but couldn't for the life of him write a brochure for his own services.

I wonder: is it brevity that's an issue, or is it that they can't get out of "legalese"?

Call me crazy, but I would think there would be a lot of fun and creativity involved in creating information products for law firms. The possibilities for angles you could take on documents (and blog postings) are likely limited only by your own imagination.

9:42 AM

Within any profession, the "jargon" problem is created by the need to communicate with precision when talking to those inside your own field. But the same jargon that makes other lawyers understand you better, hinders the understanding of non-lawyers.

Brevity is hard for lawyers simply because they understand all the many ways a simple sentence can be misunderstood.

Also its hard to objectify what you do for others. Your intellectual property lawyer is a case in point. I write marketing material for my clients all the time, but I have real difficulty writing my own materials.

When its your own stuff, your mind leaps over steps that need to be spelled out for others. This is why many people think they are talking about benefits when they are just describing a feature.

Finally, lawyers have ethical concerns. There are strict rules about the claims you make. A lawyer cannot promise the outcome of a case, for example.

However, all these problems could be solved by just offering information products written to the understanding of laypeople. For example: a simple tip sheet explaining when a person should use a will vs a trust, when a business person should set up a corporation vs a limited liability company, or negotiating tips for couples seeking a divorce.

OK I have to stop before I write a complete new article here. But you're right, I would love to do more work for law firms. Help me spread the word.

12:13 PM

Yeah, its one the hard to rank on "law firm" and marketing for the laws in the search engines is really competitive so hope we can see some tips and trick in here, Thank you for sharing this post, I really like it.

1:48 AM

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