As far as most potential clients are concerned, one lawyer is just as good as the next.
Sure, you know that you've been cited for excellence by your state bar association, and that your winning percentage in your specialty is slightly higher than the competing law firm down the street. Unfortunately, these kinds of distinctions tend not to register with the general public when you include them in your law firm marketing campaign—and the average person might even assume that you're making these honors up!
How Do People Differentiate Between Good and Bad Lawyers?
To a certain extent, lawyers have only themselves to blame for the public's inability to distinguish between good and bad attorneys. Here are some pertinent reasons:
- Unless a given lawyer is actually disbarred for unethical or illegal behavior, he can go on practicing law, and his clients will be none the wiser. This is analogous to doctors who have been repeatedly (and successfully) sued for malpractice, yet continue to practice in their communities and attract new patients.
- The proliferation of “Best Lawyers in America” and “Top 100 Lawyers in Your City” magazine inserts has lowered the bar for what it means to be a “good” lawyer. Typically, these packages are put together with an eye to revenue, not correspondence with reality. A “top” lawyer may only be one who bought a pricey ad in the magazine!
- There's no correlation between being a “good” lawyer and being a successful lawyer. Unfortunately, some of the sleaziest lawyers in America are also the most successful—while many deeply ethical and honest practitioners starve on the fringes. It's possible to be both good and successful, of course, but there's no way for the public to make this distinction.
What does this mean for your law firm advertising or attorney marketing campaign? Well, you have to keep in mind that every lawyer in America will label himself as “good” (or, more probably, “excellent,” “aggressive,” and so on) in his marketing materials. Unless a potential client is really willing to do his research and determine whether a lawyer is genuinely as accomplished as he says he is, this is all so much wasted hot air.
Differentiate Yourself from Other Lawyers with Great Legal Marketing
Just as it has become harder and harder for the public to distinguish between good and bad lawyers, so it has become harder and harder for lawyers to distinguish themselves against the competition.