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Common Lawyer Marketing Failures

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Often what depends upon legal professionals being able to afford to run a solo or a full-fledged firm, depends upon a steady flow of new clients. Under the old model, a fresh law grad would get a job at a firm, learn the ropes, put out his shingle after that, or partner up and start a firm. In those cases, a paycheck was often solely based upon referral advertising, such as old clients.

A small percentage of injury attorneys have had great success in bringing on new clients by being a guest speaker on the legal seminar circuit. So this includes seminars such as CAOC or CAALA (bother consumer attorney organizations that give out MCLE credits to attendees of conventions, such as those held in Las Vegas.) Other old-school techniques include the Yellow Pages and perhaps attorney advertising mailers with the proper disclaimer, to gain the attention of potential new clients.

These methods can still be a successful way to reach people. Speaking at the CAALA Convention is still an excellent way for fellow less experienced or funded attorneys to size up trial attorneys with vast experience, to whom they may wish to refer cases. However, this may not always lead to a reliable stream of regular new clients, aka “customers.”

Solely relying upon these tested, but no less old methods to attract business can be a colossal mistake with diminishing returns in this age of electronic media. Many older lawyers are still fearful that more aggressive commercial advertising is an ethical quagmire. So they feel it can open them up to State Bar disciplinary proceedings.

Other newer agents are usually not too street savvy, or business oriented, having spent most of their lives in school and college, learning from people who have no clue about what it takes to run a business. Frankly, many law professors and teachers, in general, are hostile to businesses as a whole.

So new lawyers in particular usually have a cookie cutter ideal of passing the bar and working at a big firm. The problem is that big firms are falling by the wayside, in some respects, due to over-regulation, taxation, the high costs and perils of complying with employment regulations and still being able to make a profit.

When a forward-looking legal counselor is not content to depend on the old bare bones methods of attracting potential clients. So there are ways to revise your advertising. And there at least seven different methods to get on track with the leaner and potentially brighter future for those who think outside the box.

Customer Targeting.

One of the most significant problems with advertising by any business is assuring that you are targeting the right customers for the company or in this case, the law firm client. But a few questions will need to be answered to advertise in the proper format that will attract clients. The first is when do these people go to find information?

What websites and distribution would these individuals be expected to read? When answering these questions, the focus should then be placed in these areas to reach the person looking for the services of a personal injury attorney. The main point is to get the message out there and have it seen by the right individuals.


Promotional Messages.

The usual promotion for attorneys is a combination of a picture of a legal advocate, their practice areas, and a slogan. This promotion is in block type advertising or a full page ad, but this isn’t enough to provide all the necessary information about a law firm.

It is wiser not to attempt to give all the needed information in this type of advertising. It is better to use the commercial to promote free and informative information that can be found at the legal advocate’s website or in the office. Then in this educational data or information, the full story of the law firm can be told the reader.


Prospects

The key issue with potential clients is that they are not too side-tracked with all the articles the law firm has ever submitted on their website or distribution site and all the history of the law firm. This client is a person seeking specific information involving their particular issues. And they also want to know what options there are legal.

This person wants to understand. It is the attorney’s job to have materials that will address the type of legal problem the individual has, and that deals with the concerns and frustrations they may be going through. This is the kind of information that will get better results addressing practice areas.

Yes, you must point out what makes you different and suited as a business. But the main thrust needs to be addressing the actual data that the injured person in need of help, for example.  So this must strike as the initial impact when a Potential New Client, or “PNC,” click on your website.

Market Positioning?

It is essential to show your position on what area of law practiced by the law firm or lawyer. The person looking to hire an attorney does not want just general information; they want to know this is an accomplished lawyer. They want someone that practices in the area of the law that they are seeking and in their location. For any advertising campaign to be useful for the law firm prospects is the main focus.


Lawyer Costs and Efforts?

It is advisable for attorneys to monitor their costs; lowering costs will not have the result expected. But there is always competition and someone else ready to outdo your efforts. In most cases, bringing down advertising expenses damages legitimacy with current clients.

They could believe they may have overpaid for services for a less prestigious attorney, and it will attract potential customers that are not the caliber of claims that you would be comfortable representing. These are known as deal customers, who are shopping for the least expensive attorney.

But it is better to focus on quality and to provide clients with the right image they want in representation. This image is what gets reflected in their acknowledgment that expert legal advocates earn what they charge. A lot of this is about optics. If your attorney drives a beat-up old Volvo, or a High-end Mercedes, who makes more money?

What would a decision maker at an insurance company think when making an offer which just parked next to the attorney at the JAMS or JDAMS mediation to settle the quadriplegia case? What would your neighbor think if they saw your lawyer getting out of or into one of those cars?

I mean to take it to an extreme if your lawyer wore a nice suit, or tattered jeans, which one are you more likely to hire? Common sense dictates that you have the appearance of being a winner and wreak of success.


Advertising Choice Makers

Advertising decisions are made in some law firms by a group choice or through social events, and this is not the most successful way to determine how advertising will be accomplished. The most successful way to focus on advertising is to make one person in charge of all decisions; this will allow a specific focus, rather than decisions made in several directions that will not have the power of a targeted advertising campaign.

Democracies do not work in general. This system is why you need to choose a republican form of leadership within your organization to make these hard choices, and keep the ball rolling! If they fail, get rid of them and learn this stuff yourself!


Priority in Advertising

Law firms or legal counselors often center on their specialized areas of the law, rather than promoting their law firm. This information should be what the client is looking for, along with knowing there are quality legal advocates. Law firms that are advertising are vying for new business. To bring in a steady stream of customers you need to show how you achieve your daily operations.

Using the right format and focus on advertising can be entirely successful and rewarding. But when done wrong it can result in a low-quality client base. Advertising has gone to different heights than just the traditional Yellow Page advertising. And the law firm that wants to reach the most significant percentage of potential clients will find using other methods of advertising rewarding. Stay ethical, and read all of the attorney advertising guidelines here on the California State Bar website. Last but not least, continue your legal education and stay focused on the end goal.


Michael Ehline - PI Law Tutorials

Michael Ehline is a highly trained personal injury attorney in Los Angeles, CA. He writes educational articles to help injured consumers.

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