In this three-part series, we’ll discuss how lawyers should talk to today’s legal consumers across three primary areas of interest: money, expertise and the legal process. These are the categories in which legal consumers have the most urgent questions. And, it’s imperative for law firms to increase their chances to convert leads to clients by addressing each of these broad topics in ways that place the law firm in the most favorable light possible. In part 1, we addressed how lawyers should talk to potential clients about money. Now, we’ll turn our attention to how attorneys should best express their expertise.
Lawyers have been excelling at part of the expertise-selling component of marketing for quite some time now. The other half? Not so much.
What law firms are really good at is optimizing their attorneys’ experience. I mean, look at any law firm bio page, and it’s all there. The blue ribbon educational experience. The dope internships. The community involvement. The bar association participation. The awards. Lord, the awards. Super lawyers. AV-rated lawyers. Super-duper lawyers? The point is that law firms are very good about hitting consumers over the head with information about how special their lawyers are. It’s been the primary marketing posture for law firms since at least the early 70s, when law firms were formally allowed to advertise. And, it works. Clients want a lawyer who evinces expertise.
Of course, where potential clients are accessing that expertise is changing. Traditionally, attorneys have ground down their bios with such fare; but, they have not extended all of that to other online profiles. So, since more mobile searches are taking place in applications than ever before, it’s more important than ever before to also place this sort of information about their expertise on social media profiles, review platforms and other webplaces that aren’t their websites. The information that a legal consumer can access about a lawyer from the law firm website should be accessible elsewhere online to the same degree. Consistency, attached to a call to action, is extremely helpful, in this case.
That still, though, only addressees the extension of a lawyer’s general expertise to the further flung recesses of the web. Legal consumers, however, also want to know about a lawyer’s specific expertise. Specifically, they want to know how an attorney can help them with their particular issue. Legal consumers, in order to hire a lawyer, have got to feel like the lawyer they will be working with can be their guide on a journey. Is the lawyer going to be able to answer the specific questions the would-be-client has about her case? In other words, does the lawyer have a niche practice, and to what degree? In much the same way that you wouldn’t want to hire a literal sherpa to lead you through the streets of Manhattan, a legal consumer doesn’t necessarily just want a personal injury attorney — he may want someone who specializes in motorcycle accidents. Or, he may be looking for a divorce attorney . . . that specializes in mediation. Or, perhaps he wants a litigator who’s focusing on claims related to yachts.
This all cuts against another tenet of traditional law firm marketing: that you open yourself up to take more cases, not fewer. Many law firms still exist as general practice firms precisely in order to cast wider nets. But, settling on a niche that works serves to reduce direct competition, and is also an effective way to drive revenue in that segment. Furthermore, it answers the only real question a potential client has about a lawyer:
Can you help me with my case?