I’m frequently asked how much time and money should attorneys spend on marketing. Like a true lawyer, I reply that “it depends.” There is no magic percentage of revenue or billable hours to be allocated to business development activities. The answer to this question will vary by practice area, geographic location and budget.
But when asked about the two most important marketing tools for attorneys, my answer is rarely “it depends.” The answer is your networking efforts and your website. No matter how much time and money a lawyer decides to spend, spend it in these two areas.

Networking Works

Like it or not, law is a relationship-based profession/business. Always has been and always will be. People hire lawyers whom they like and trust.

Although liking and trusting can sometimes be achieved without face-to-face contact, an attorney’s best relationships are usually made in person and enhanced by networking. The type of networking I recommend, stresses one-on-one coffees or lunches, and perhaps the occasional client-entertainment-type activity.

Social Media

What about it? It is most effective when used as a marketing tool to expand your network by laying the groundwork for personal meetings.

Websites Make Your First Impression

With marketing legal services, you have only one opportunity to make a strong first impression. Prior to the advent of the Internet, this first impression was usually made at an in-person meeting. Today, the first impression is typically your website. Make it count.

The circumstances that caused a potential client to check out your website are irrelevant. The visit could be the result of a Google search or a referral. No matter the circumstance, you want to leave the best possible impression. The lawyer with the best website will get the first call. And there may be no second call.

Plenty of posts on the web provide excellent suggestions about the look and feel of a good law firm website, as well as the content. However, it never ceases to amaze me how many lawyer websites don’t follow even the basics. These include the following:

  • Make your website easy to read and navigate. If it takes more than two seconds for a visitor to look up an attorney’s bio, your site needs work.
  • Make sure your website contains: This is who I am, this is what I do, this is who I do it for, and this is how you can reach me.
  • Tell stories that demonstrate how you can help clients solve their legal problems. This matters so much more than where you attended law school, all of the deals you have worked on or a list of your representative cases.

Double Down on Networking and Websites

Use networking to develop relationships. Use your website to inform and impress. Spend your time and money in these two areas and, trust me, your phone will ring.

(image: Confident businesswoman handing co-worker business card from Shutterstock)


  1. Avatar legaltruth says:

    I suggest you read the works of Richard Susskind. Old ideas like this will be compeletly outdated in the next few years. Take for instance legalzoom which has no person to person interactions but makes millions in profits each year. It is reported that it is more well known as a type of legal service provider than any other law firm in the world. Rocket Lawyer is also gaining significant traction in the market. Rocket lawyer combines legal document creation and gives discounts for additional legal work with attorneys. Neither of these focus on personal websites or networking but are taking significant percentages of the market for legal services. The world is changing drastically and attorneys are nearly all unaware of what is going on and lack the technological prowess to understand how to utilize this technology. Disruptive innovation is coming to the legal sector and if being adopted quickly because of the extreme cost savings they provide versus the high billable hour practice of attorneys or 1/3 contingency fees. Lawyers need to update their practices or they will cease to exist.

      • Avatar Roy Ginsburg says:

        While I agree that there are lots of changes going on, the old fashioned way to practice law, while decreasing, is not going away tomorrow. It will still comprise a good share of what constitutes legal services and will for quite some time. Moreover, I think that the outfits you mention are in many ways are creating new markets, and not necessarily taking a significant chunk of market share from the traditional one.

    • Avatar Guest says:

      Your wife has told you that she will divorce you and take away your kids and the majority of your net worth. Will you invest a small percentage of your net worth, in order to save the majotity of your net worth, by hiring the best lawyer that you can afford? Or will you pay LegalZoom $50 to mail you a do it yourself kit that you can bring to court and read while you litigate against your wife’s experienced lawyer.

      Lets not talk about serious corporate and tort matters where millions of dollars are at stake.

      The value of a lawyer is, either directly or indirectly, a percentage of how much money is at stake. First tier lawyers will demand as much money as they can get from clients. Clients will pay rather than skimp and hire a second tier lawyer (or software) who loses the case to the first tier lawyer.

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