What Attorneys Must Know About Self-Promotion

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We’re at an interesting midpoint in the evolution of attorney promotion. Some attorneys are very savvy — posting robust content to their websites, blogging regularly to social media, posting videos explaining their areas of focus and specialty and writing expert opinion pieces for major media. Some even have cush relationships with producers of cable news-talk shows and at least a few in L.A. are rumored to employ overseas contractors who constantly add keywords to their websites to keep their SEO ahead of the competition.

Other attorneys are apprehensive of any promotion. Their formative years as lawyers preceded the Supreme Court’s 1977 decision allowing attorneys to promote themselves. Their websites haven’t been updated since the Clinton administration.

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Those lawyers are in their waning years. They tend to have as much work as they want and don’t want to be bothered. To them, there’s not much promotional advice to offer. To the rest, there’s plenty.

Changes in the economy and in technology have placed a much greater emphasis upon what a potential client can and wants to learn about you online. It’s not just a matter of, “We have the Internet now,” because we’ve had it for a long time. It’s about how a substantial percentage of your potential clients now think and do business differently, and a year from now, that percentage will be even greater. You can have a gorgeous office on the top floor of a Century City high-rise and your firm’s logo on the building, but many millennials won’t be impressed if there’s not a lot they can learn about you by Googling you and browsing your firm’s website. Too many attorneys seem to rush through creating a website. Put some thought, creativity and effort into creating a robust, clean site that highlights your specialties and tells your story. Include a bio, a nice photo and links to your social media pages. Think of the site as a commercial that will replay for free for years to come. Shouldn’t yours be more engaging and appealing than your competitors’ sites?

The general public’s mindset toward attorneys has also shifted in much the same way as its attitude toward doctors. Few are asking around for a good general practitioner. They want the best foot surgeon, or the best dermatologist and they want to see that surgeon’s reviews and articles.

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One of L.A.’s top business development specialists for law firms, Jonathan Fitzgarrald of Equinox Strategy Partners, helps lawyers increase their book of business by teaching them how to be more aggressive in going after business, how to become cheerleaders for the success of others at the firm, how to network through myriad organizations and how to better promote and market themselves so that it’s crystal clear to potential clients that the attorney not only has a specialty, but is a recognized specialist.

Fitzgarrald also encourages clients to obtain quotes as experts, meet journalists and secure columns and articles in major media outlets. This creates a form of content promotion that helps on so many levels. These articles go on the firm’s website (often under a “news” or “media” button), on the firm’s Facebook and LinkedIn company pages (which are essential forms of promotion for all attorneys), on their Twitter pages and so forth — not to mention on the pages of the media sites that the attorney is writing for, which is huge because you’re creating an array of material for the potential client who’s Googling you that’s tremendously more impressive than Avvo and Yelp ratings. Additionally, all of this will greatly boost your SEO.

Attorneys who specialize in various, highly competitive areas such as IP, consumer law and entertainment law who don’t apply these tactics will lose business to those that do.

OAS

Another old school way of thinking is that these media hits are more ephemeral than other forms of promotion. I would argue that the opposite is true. If you place an ad on the back of a bus, some people will see the ad that month, but most won’t. If you have an article on CNBC.com, the potential client who’s Googling you three years from now will still find that article on the media outlet’s site, on your firm’s website and in other places. In fact, the number of sites that host your item could double in the weeks and months after it first posts as others share it to their LinkedIn pages and other social media sites, as well as being cited by scholars, posted to forums and so forth.

I’ve been impressed by other ways these promotions have helped attorneys obtain speaking engagements, be asked by out-oftown attorneys to handle local cases and be approached to handle major litigation. A Los Angeles judge recently chose one partition referee over another because the first candidate had written an article about partition refereeing that was originally published in 2003 in Receivership News and updated in 2015. That doesn’t seem ephemeral to me at all. Howard Breuer 

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