No one has it worse in today's legal marketing landscape than the small law firm.
If you're a sole practitioner, you have a certain amount of flexibility in how you choose to market your services, and you're accountable only to yourself—while, if you belong to a medium or large-sized law firm (at least 20 or so lawyers) you can depend on a steady stream of marketing dollars fueled by new clients. A firm consisting of only five or so lawyers, in addition to support staff, is in the worst position of all, which is why you need some new ideas to build your practice!
Why Are Small Law Firms in Such a Tight Spot?
The last few years have seen a proliferation of small law firms, usually consisting of three, four or five partners and their associated support staff and paralegals. This can be attributed to the fracturing of big national and regional firms, which tend to spin off into smaller practices, as well as to the inclination of newly minted lawyers to band together for security and increased attractiveness to clients (who may not otherwise be eager to sign on with a recent law school graduate).
When it comes to marketing their services, these small firms tend to run into the same difficulties. These include:
- Tailoring a marketing pitch to the very different practice areas of each individual lawyer, while maintaining the firm's “brand” identify
- Being outspent by medium– to large-sized law firms, which can afford to spend millions of dollars to attract new clients
- Differentiating themselves from other, similarly sized law firms that are chasing the same kinds of clients and using the same marketing techniques
- Dealing with an indifferent public, which has a hard time telling one small law firm from the next, especially if they have similar specialties
- Trying to attract a better breed of client, rather than agreeing to represent every person who walks through the front door