A Case for Business Cards for Lawyers

Are you a lawyer who thinks it’s time to toss your business cards? Here’s a real-life case against from family law attorney Elizabeth Pugliese on the ABA’s General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division listserv, SOLOSEZ:

Back in April, I had to go into the cable company office to get a box. I chatted with the guy at customer service and mentioned I was a lawyer.

Gave him my card which specifically states what kind of cases I handle (family law is a big vague for lay people).

He passed my card on to a co-worker who hired me. Who then passed my info on to a relative who hired me. Today, co-worker had a hearing. He asked for a bunch more of my cards to hand out to people.

Who knew Comcast would be a good referral source?

Who knew Comcast would be a good referral source?

The answer is, you don’t know. You don’t know whether it’s going to be your cable guy, you kid’s teacher, or your pilates instructor that’s going to be a good referral source. And you’ll never know if you dump your business cards.

While there are some electronic business card alternatives, there are no true replacements.

As Lawyerist commenter “John” noted:

As long as we humans continue to interact in the physical world, we’ll need business cards. Just make sure you do a good job of merging your online and offline presence.

In a word, yes. As much as many web ninjas, social media mages, internet marketing elves, and the rest of the LARP marketing community might prefer that we completely toss offline marketing, it is the physical world in which we meet and interact.

And while the length of time we continue to interact in the physical world may be up for debate, in my humble opinion, there’s not much debate about whether business cards still have a place in professional networking.

And so, the question becomes, how do lawyers effectively use business cards? Here are some ideas:

  • Have them at all times – You don’t know when you’ll run into the cable guy.
  • Make them sing (or at least talk) – Your card should communicate what you do, why the receiver should contact you, and how to stay connected with you.
  • Don’t be scared – Reach into your pocket grab a card, they won’t bite.
  • Don’t be rude – If you’re reaching for a business card before you’re extending your hand, you’re probably thinking business cards don’t work. News Flash, it’s not the cards

While merely having cards, and knowing what to put on them are key, knowing how to pass, receive, and merge your business cards with the rest of your professional development tools is the difference between whether your cards attract new clients or become tinder to stay warm when your power is cut.



  1. Avatar Jay Pinkert says:

    Business cards occupy the same use case as landline phones: You rarely need to use them, but when you do, you REALLY do.

  2. Any tips for what to put on a business card to encourage more web interaction?

    • Avatar Jay Pinkert says:

      The current print-to-online engagement darling is QR codes. But the other edge of that sword is that they take up a lot of real estate (code + white space) on the card and looks gimmicky.

    • To me, it’s not as much about what you have on your card as it is about your card exchange process and follow-up.

      Card real estate is very limited. While I might be in the minority here, I limit contact info to the essentials and focus on value-benefits and calls to action.

      When someone reaches for your card, hopefully their next move is to contact you. The focus should be on getting them 1) to reach for your card 2) to contact you directly from info on card.

      To me, increasing web interaction comes after that first contact, most likely, in the form of an email.

      For example, you pass card. They email you. Your email, perhaps your signature block, contains some of the places that they can “find” you online.

      You exchange cards. You follow-up with an email. Same type of thing. Make it easy for folks to subscribe to your blog, email newsletters, and connect via social networks.

      Don’t cram a ton of useless information on your card. Stick to basic contact info and focus on why the person holding your card should contact you. What’s their problem? How can you help them solve it?

      • Avatar Jay Pinkert says:


        I agree with your comment about the exchange process and follow-up, and would take it a bit further.

        The effectiveness of business cards in business development has very little to do with the physical card itself. Rather, it’s timing — whether the recipient has an immediate need or knows someone with an immediate need — and the quality of the personal interaction during which the card was given or exchanged. The card is just a physical artifact that transmits basic contact information. However, it becomes more than that when you’re able to adhere positive, memory-triggering impressions to it.

  3. Avatar Joseph the Lawyer says:

    Yes, though Google cards are awesome. But, as everyone knows, now days your business card is your website. Just have your cards ready when someone asks for them or you will seem unprepared.

  4. Great Post. I go through 2500 business cards a year. I never leave my house or office without my pocket card holder. When I go somewhere and asked for my phone number I give them a card. When I am at Chucky Cheese with my sons and get talking with another parent I usually give them a card. When in the grocery store on the way out I will post one on their board. When I return my grocery bags folded up I put a card in them. Just a few days ago I while taking my sons clothes shopping; I left a card in the dressing room. The next day I received a phone call from a gentleman who picked it up and now have a 2 day surveillance to conduct for him. When I go out to eat I always leave a business card on the table with my tip. I printed up return address labels with my business card info on them and attach them to my deposit slips when I make bank deposits via the ATM, deposit box and yes the teller.
    As you can see I am not shy about sharing my cards. They have paid for themselves many times over. My next venture is brochures. I have neglected far too long on utilizing them and just ordered 1000. My next goal is to mail some out to potential clients and to hand distribute them to every attorney within 120 miles of my office. Have cards will travel!
    Ken Cote Investigations

  5. Avatar Dan says:

    I was expecting to find a nice physical carrying case for business cards for lawyers….
    Great article though, thanks!

  6. I’m definitely in the business card camp. Maybe lawyers just like paper (because I’ve got lots of that too, along with my business cards). No matter how sophisticated we get in other forms of technology, people tend to hang onto a lawyer’s business card (just in case they need it one day or know someone who does).

  7. Avatar Erik says:

    On the back of my business cards, I put a line for a client to write down an appointment time and also include a “thank you for your business.” Thanking people is simple, yet often forgotten.

    • Sam Glover Sam G. says:

      I’ll be honest, I don’t think that does a thing for you. Sincerity is not conveyed by a pre-printed line on a business card, especially a line commonly found on generic disposable shopping bags.

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