Is thinking like a lawyer the most important thing you can do? (Part A)

Have you ever been told you "think like a lawyer?" Sometimes thinking like a lawyer just isn't a good idea, like when your neighbor mentions he is building a pool. Answering with "Really?! You're inviting a lot of potential for premises liability" isn't going to earn you any points for neighborly conversation, but it might get them to walk away, muttering "always a lawyer."

The stereotype of lawyers is that we don't know how to STOP being a lawyer, which is especially dangerous when you're talking legal marketing. Even worse is when lawyers can't understand that when they're running a law firm, they're running a BUSINESS and not just their legal practice.

Law School Teaches Us to Be Lawyers, Not Businessmen

All those papers you wrote and research you dug through in law school were preparing you for the glamorous world of a legal career, but they never said anything about business or legal marketing. Unless you specialized in business law, chances are you probably learned next to nothing about running your own law firm.

You've got your law firm established; your diplomas are on the wall of your office, and the cases should be rolling in. When you get no bites, you think "well, we need to advertise!" and look at what other lawyers are doing and copy their Yellow Pages ad. Or you take out another batch of annoying billboards across town, and so on.

Stop. You're thinking like a lawyer again. 

The only way you're going to break free of the gaggle of other law firms in your practice area is to stop thinking like a lawyer. They're all thinking that way with their legal marketing, and it's getting them nowhere. A successful businessman seeks to differentiate themselves from their competition, either by offering something new or better or by offering it in a unique way.

But I can't just turn my (lawyer) brain off!

There's a time and a place to think like a lawyer and that's when you're doing case work or in court. When you're dealing with legal marketing and advertising (and yes, they are separate things) you need to be thinking like an entrepreneur; a businessman. Even if your reason for becoming a lawyer was to help the people and fight injustice, you can't do anything if you can't financially support your law firm.

A good lawyer, one that wants to do their job and still enjoy their life, will realize that lawyers aren't legal marketing professionals. They're going to turn to someone like me for help with their legal marketing, or they're going to do what I did and stop thinking like a lawyer by looking at successful non-lawyer entrepreneurs and how they do their marketing.

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Ben Glass
Ben is a nationally recognized expert in attorney marketing and the owner of Great Legal Marketing.