There are a huge number of lawyers in the United States—over a million, according to the American Bar Association. And ever since the early 1970s, when the Supreme Court ruled that the practice was legal, an increasing number of these lawyers have been advertising their legal services on TV, radio, print media, and the web. If you're looking to promote your firm, you have to realize that you're up against some stiff competition, which may or may not play by the same ethical rules.
A Lot of Lawyers Are Chasing the Same Potential Clients
But wait, it gets even worse. After 40 years of lawyer advertising, it has become abundantly clear that some types of clients and cases are more attractive to attorneys than others. The result is that an increasing number of lawyers are targeting:
- Personal injury cases (about 30 percent of all the lawyers in America list this as one of their specialties)
- Medical malpractice
- Car accidents
What about other lucrative areas like equal opportunity laws, immigration and naturalization, or labor unions? Well, law firm advertising still targets potential clients for these types of cases, but the competition is much less fierce than for the above specialties—but still fierce overall, as you may have witnessed the increasing number of lawyers in urban areas who specialize in undocumented immigrants.
What all this means, of course, is that the average lawyer has to invest a lot of effort in getting his name out, often via expensive TV, radio, or Internet ad campaigns. Because a lot of lawyers are heading in this direction, the payoff at the end of the process is a lot less substantial than it used to be. This isn't like the auto industry, where seven or eight major manufacturers vie with one another for the consumer's dollar. Even in a small city, your potential competition may amount to a few dozen lawyers with the same specialty.