Lawyers must market because the competition for business can be brutal in virtually all practice areas and localities. That is the bad news.
The good news is that the vast majority of the competition stinks. Here are two stories to illustrate my point; both of them told to me by attendees at one of my recent CLEs. Both are general counsel at mid sized corporations.
Let’s get together (but only on my terms)
The first story is about one GC who was recently called by one of her regular outside counsel for a “let’s get together” lunch. That is what many outside counsel are doing now in this slow economy to nurture their existing relationships. (Of course, they should be doing it all of the time, but doing lunch is now on more lawyers’ radar screens)
The GC worked in the suburbs, while the outside lawyer officed downtown. When it got down to scheduling where and when, the outside lawyer essentially refused to meet the GC where she worked and would only meet if she came downtown. The GC thought it too much of a hassle to go downtown and the lunch never happened.
Let’s go Dutch
The second story concerns another GC who was invited to attend a major sporting event. Great idea, but as you will see, incredulously poor execution.
The GC agreed. The outside lawyer then asked if they could have dinner beforehand, but qualified the invitation with “would it be OK if we split the bill; my marketing budget is tight this month.” This GC was too embarrassed to refuse the dinner invite, but needless to say was quite taken aback that this lawyer or law firm was so cheap (this GC was not hoping for a free Morton’s steak; a simple hamburger dinner before the game would have been just fine).
Lesson: your competition stinks!
What is even more amazing about these stories is that, knowing how most lawyers think about marketing, these two lawyers are probably patting themselves on the back for their marketing attempts and do not recognize how idiotic their behavior is perceived by their clients. The lesson here: if you are an outside lawyer who thinks that the competition is overwhelming; it may be, but many of them, if you pardon the play on words, are “out to lunch.”