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Best Practice Tips: Increasing Law Firm Revenues Through Additional Marketing Investment


Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am the sole owner of a two-attorney firm in Atlanta. I have been in practice for 13 years. I have one associate who has been with me for one year, one full-time paralegal, and two part-time assistants. I have a general practice. Revenues have stagnated and I need to identify strategies for getting to the next level. My practice is struggling. I have been thinking about narrowing my practice and focusing on five or six practice areas. I am ready to invest in marketing. I would appreciate your thoughts.

A. This is the age of specialization – less often results in more. Many attorneys in small general practice firms are afraid to specialize and focus on three areas of practice or fewer. The concern is that by specializing, there simply will not be enough business of keep the attorneys busy generating sufficient revenues.

I have worked with several firms that have shifted their practices from general practices to practices limited to estate planning and elder law and they have performed far better as specialized practices than they did as general practices. I suggest that you consider focusing your practice on on no more than two or three key practice areas in which you can differentiate yourself.

Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Don’t copycat. Brand yourself. Look for ways to differentiate yourself and your firm from your competitors. Become the only attorney that can do what you do. Make a decision – what do you want to be known and remembered for? Unique services, unique client groups, different service delivery strategy, personal style. Create a five-year plan for goal accomplishment.
  2. Create a marketing culture and environment. Marketing and client service need to be incorporated into the culture of the firm. All attorneys and staff should have a role in marketing. Owners/partners must walk the talk and consistently build and reinforce the marketing goals of the firm. Marketing goals and action plans should be formulated and team members held accountable. Over time a marketing mindset will emerge.
  3. Learn how to become “solutions oriented” and become a consultant to your clients as opposed to simply their attorney. Solutions may involve activities and services other than legal services. Think out-of-the-box and outside of typical frameworks in which you are comfortable.
  4. Join a client’s trade association and make contributions in the form of articles, speeches, conference attendance, etc. Learn the client’s business from top to bottom.
  5. Increase your geographic reach – possibly a state-wide or multi-state practice.
  6. Institute quarterly client service/marketing brainstorming sessions. Break the rules. Encourage all members in the firm to think out-of-the-box and innovate. Look for new ways to solve client problems. Look for new solutions. No topic should be initially be considered out-of-bounds.
  7. Write an article every other month.
  8. Take a client or referral source to lunch once a week.
  9. Establish a marketing library to include general materials on marketing as well as specific publications related to your client’s business.
  10. Provide marketing training/coaching for attorneys and staff. and improve time management skills of everyone in the firm.

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John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC, (www.olmsteadassoc.com) is a past chair and member of the ISBA Standing Committee on Law Office Management and Economics and author of The Lawyers Guide to Succession Planning published by the ABA. For more information on law office management please direct questions to the ISBA listserver, which John and other committee members review, or view archived copies of The Bottom Line Newsletters. Contact John at jolmstead@olmsteadassoc.com.

Posted on May 03, 2017 by Sara Anderson | Comments (0)
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