Law Firm Business Strategies: 4 Keys to Breaking the 7-Figure Barrier

It’s no surprise when laid-off lawyers or law school grads who can’t find a job hang out their own shingles, but there are even more attorneys heeding the siren call to start up their own firm in order to achieve a better work-life balance (if that even exists).law firm marketing business strategy

You may feel at times that starting a law firm is counterintuitive when it comes to finding balance in your life. However, if you build it right, running your own firm can be a highly satisfying way to employ yourself and serve clients the way you’ve always wanted.

I have personally trained over 18,000 lawyers on how to manage and market their firms more efficiently and effectively. I have probably helped more attorneys break the seven-figure barrier in revenues than anyone else. I’m not telling you this to brag, but to share with you the keys to breaking the seven-figure barrier based on my experiences.

Key #1:  Run your law firm like a business.

You studied the law as a noble profession, but to break the seven-figure barrier, you must run your law firm like a business. As a solo practitioner or the owner of a small law firm, your primary focus – after gaining competency as an attorney – is to understand and apply the key principles of business development, operations, management and law firm marketing every single day. There are 10 major parts every successful law firm owner must focus on – in this order:

Marketing: The purpose of marketing is to generate leads. There are a wide variety of ways to do this. All of them work, but they are not always suited for all situations, practice areas or attorneys. Find three-five different ways that work for you and use them frequently. Not every attorney will be a top Rainmaker, but everyone can do something to grow and market his or her practice.

Sales: The purpose of sales is to close the deal or sign up the client. Once you start generating leads, you must become better at getting prospects to become paying clients.

Services: Once you have become proficient at generating leads and closing the deal, you must perform the services for the client. When you fix your marketing, then you have a sales problem. When you fix your sales problem, then you have a services problem. See how this works?

Staff: When you become successful at marketing and sales, eventually you will also need more staff to do the work. You cannot hire just any staff; they must be the right staff for you. What kind of culture do you want your firm to have? Who will best fit that culture? Develop a list of qualities and characteristics you need your team members to have.

Systems: Policies, procedures and systems allow you to scale to the next level. Without written systems you cannot scale your business. You will hit a breaking point. It may be at half a million or more, but eventually you will experience a lot of unnecessary pain and suffering because you didn’t invest in creating written policies, procedures and systems for your law firm. You need written systems for every major part of your business. From marketing and intake to money and metrics, it all must be logically written down so even a brand new team member who knows nothing about your business can follow it.

Space: After you start hiring the right staff because you have more clients to serve, eventually you will need more office space to house them. Far too many attorneys get caught up in renting a much bigger or nicer space than they can afford in an attempt to “keep up with the Joneses” or give off the appearance of being more successful than they are. The pleasure you may gain from a fancy office is nothing compared with the worry of making those big payments every month. Don’t strap yourself with too many financial obligations and be careful about signing longterm agreements, especially when you’re just starting off.

Money: Very few attorneys went to school to become a bookkeeper or an accountant, but to manage a growing business you must know how to manage your money. You need to know the basics of finances for small business, from reading a profit and loss statement to analyzing your cash flow. Being an owner means other people are depending on you to manage the money wisely.

Metrics: To consistently break a million dollars per year in revenues, there are over a dozen numbers you must be monitoring and measuring consistently. Here are a few of them – unique website visitors each month, leads per month, average cost per lead by marketing channel (PPC, SEO, TV, radio, print, etc), appointments your team sets per month, show up rate to your appointments, conversion rate for initial consultation by attorney, average cost per client acquisition by marketing channel, cost of goods sold (COGS) per practice area and profit margin per practice area. This is not a comprehensive list, but if you know, measure and track each of those metrics every month, you’re on your way to comprehensively monitoring your business.

Strategy: While having a great strategy is necessary, most attorneys spend too much time developing a strategy and too little time implementing the strategy! Get some leads in the door. Make the sale. Collect the money. Do great work. Obtain some referrals. Wash, rinse and repeat! Then work on your next level strategy.

Self: Upgrading yourself is the last, but most important step. You need to read business growth books or take classes or seminars if that fits your style of learning better. Hang around other successful business owners. Join a mastermind group of successful attorneys. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. You will never build a multimillion-dollar law firm by staying inside your comfort zone.

Key #2: Focus on a Niche

When you’re in the startup phase (from $0 to about $250,000), you face a never-ending challenge of taking whatever business comes in through the door in order to pay the bills or concentrating on one area to build a niche practice. It becomes a question of short-term focus versus longterm survival – and I realize that most solos need to balance both in order to make it.

However, the faster you can start focusing on one to two practice area niches, the faster you will go from having a job ($0 to $500,000) to creating a practice ($500,000 to $1M). When people see you as a jack of all trades (the generalist approach), they also perceive you as the master of none. People will pay more for a specialist because they see you as an expert. People will refer more to a specialist because they aren’t afraid of you stealing their clients or competing with them. Contrary to popular belief, this approach does not limit you. It helps to focus your marketing and business development efforts.

There are many ways to select a niche, but it must be small enough to be realistic, yet big enough to have enough potential clients in it. For example, being No. 1 divorce attorney in all of the Phoenix metro area is not realistic. There are far too many entrenched and successful competitors to ever achieve this. However, you could be the No. 1 divorce attorney for entrepreneurs and small business owners in the East Valley. Here are a few other ways to select a niche:

  • ServiceNiche: DUI attorney for licensed health care professionals; estate planning and asset protection for doctors and dentists; tax attorney for the self-employed; business transactional lawyer for real estate investors; business immigration law for the hi-tech industry; business law for health care providers; and IP and trademark lawyer for small business owners.

  • Industry Niche: Technology, agriculture, doctors, transportation, restaurant owners, manufacturing, construction, energy, or real estate development.

  • Geographic Niche: Phoenix, Gilbert, Tempe, Chandler, Scottsdale, or the East Valley.

  • Specialty Market Niche: Privately held companies, Fortune 500, physicians, white collar executives, blue collar construction workers, franchise owners, bicycle accidents, fitness centers, Spanish-speaking clients, developers, or commercial lenders.

Review your top 10 client list (either by amount of revenue/fees generated or in terms of how much you enjoy working with them). Then, look for any similarities. It may not be apparent at first, but keep asking questions and you will find it. Building a niche around a solid client base is one of the fastest ways to differentiate yourself.

Read Part 3-Law Firm Business Strategies: 4 Keys to Breaking the 7-Figure Barrier (Part 3 of 4)

© The Rainmaker Institute, All Rights Reserved

Your Guide to Developing Your Personal Marketing Plan…and Why Every Lawyer Should Have One

In my humble opinion, every lawyer in private practice –- regardless of how many years practicing law — should have a Personal Marketing Plan. Here’s why:

You Will Seize Control of Your Career

Creating and implementing your Personal Marketing Plan enables you to seize control of your career. In time, it puts you in a position to attract and retain clients you enjoy, and matters you find challenging and interesting. You will also be less dependent on others to feed you. There are two kinds of lawyers in private practice: lawyers with clients, and lawyers who work for lawyers with clients. Which would you rather be?

You Will Make More Money

Rainmakers make more money — often a whole lot more money — than non-rainmakers in just about every law firm in the U.S. Chances are you’ve heard the terms “finders, minders and grinders.” Trust me; the action is with the finders.

You Will Have More Clout in the Firm

Lawyers who bring in business also have more power within their firms. Over time, they emerge as firm leaders, influencing important decisions about the firm, its policies and procedures, and its future direction.

How Much Time Should You Invest?

Of course, implementing your plan is the key to success….and it takes time. Non-billable time. I recommend that Partners invest 200 hours a year, and 100 hours a year for Associates. It’s critical you do a little bit every day. Fifteen minutes here. A half-hour there. Effective marketing and business development is not a “start-stop” process. It’s like an exercise regimen…results come with consistency over time.

What Types of Things Should You Do?

Partners should visit top clients at the clients’ places of business each year. (Refer to my previous Marketing Tip about Client Site Visits.) Associates should focus first on honing their legal skills and “credentialing” activities. For all attorneys, lunch once a week with a client, prospective client or referral source is a good habit. Joining and being actively involved in a well-chosen organization is another good thing to do. (Refer to my previous Marketing Tip about Individual Marketing Plans.) Article writing and speech giving are good activities, as well.

Make the Commitment to Yourself

Of course, developing and implementing your Personal Marketing Plan requires non-billable time. And, herein lies the dilemma for many lawyers. Non-billable “marketing time” is not rewarded — and sometimes not even measured — in many law firms. No matter, you should invest the time anyway. In his book True Professionalism, David Maister states that billable hours are for today’s income, but what you do with your non-billable time determines your future. I couldn’t agree more.

Copyright 2016 The Remsen Group

The Future of Law Firm Marketing with Deloitte CMO Diana O’Brien [PODCAST]

In this podcast interview, John McDougall of McDougall Interactive and and Nicole Minnis of The National Law Review speak with LMA keynote speaker Diana O’Brien about her role as CMO of Deloitte, the future of law firm marketing, marketing technology, and the challenges that law firms face with traditional and digital marketing.

John McDougall: Hi, I’m John McDougall, CEO of McDougall Interactive, and I’m here today with Nicole Minnis, Lead Publications Manager at the National Law Review. And our guest is Diana O’Brien, the Chief Marketing Officer of Deloitte. Diana will be the Keynote Speaker at the upcoming Legal Marketing Association annual conference on April 11th – 13th, in Austin, Texas. Welcome, Nicole and Diana.

Nicole Minnis: Thanks John, hi, and hello to you, Diana, as well.

Diana O’Brien: Thanks John and Nicole, it’s great to be here today.

John: Absolutely, and Diana, thanks for taking the time. You are a fairly new CMO, and I know that you came to this role from a non-marketing background — given that, what inspired you to take this new role as CMO of Deloitte?

Diana: Well “inspired” is the right word. First, my passion was really clients. I’ve spent 30 years in client service. That’s really where I learned to listen to clients, and respond, and react to what it is that they needed, and that was really the impetus to me appreciating and becoming, I think, a champion for clients within our firm. So today being the Deloitte CMO, I’m really the champion for all of our clients, and I’m responsible for helping out stake-holders within the firm whether they be our newest associates to our partners, be responsible for listening and understanding the collective needs of all of our clients and creating an environment where our clients get every day, in every interaction, a world-class experience in every touchpoint. So the client experience is something that I’m just deeply passionate about.

The second thing I sort of married up with that is I had the chance, after having that career, to take on a responsibility of being the Managing Director of Deloitte University – which is our learning center in Texas – and that’s where I came to appreciate and recognize that the world has changed. What worked yesterday doesn’t work tomorrow. We need to create environments where people can thrive, and grow, and continue to evolve, and I had the chance to do that for all of the learning. But, really, the same is so true for marketing today. We’re moving from this world where you could just push out this sort of one-way message where you were communicating what you wanted to communicate and push it out there and hope people heard it, to this more interactive, 24/7, broader business connection, and creating an environment where your clients thrive and you’re part of that active engagement. So it’s not really a back office anymore, it’s right front and center with the clients, and it’s a new capability that you need in order to do that.

So when you marry those two things up, it was a perfect choice for me and I was excited to take it on.

John: Yes, it sounds like empathy and inspiration.

Diana: Yes.

John: And what’s your mandate as CMO?

Diana: It’s really simple. It’s really to drive growth for the firm; it really couldn’t be any more simple than that. What I would say that maybe would resonate, I think, for a lot of marketers is that it does still start with the Deloitte purpose, and I do think that you don’t grow unless you’re grounded in your purpose. So, a good CMO is always going to know what that is and be able to inspire all their professionals to link back to that. So, the Deloitte purpose is to make an impact that matters with our clients, our people, our communities. So, when I think about what my job is and I think about the 70,000 professionals that work at Deloitte, I need all of them every day to go out and strengthen our brand to grow the firm by showing up to our clients in a consistent but personalized way that creates strong relationships, that builds powerful experiences, delivers unique insights that helps our professionals and our clients establish the kind of connection that is sustainable over time so we can really help as problems and issues go over time.

Changes to the Marketing Organization at Deloitte

John: And what changes have you made to the marketing organization in order to execute on that mandate?

Diana: Gosh, I’ve been busy with that.

John:  Quite a few.

Diana: We’ve streamlined a lot. We have really focused on optimizing the resources but we’ve been driving towards a new model. What’s interesting about Deloitte in this regard – and I don’t know that everyone’s appraised this quite yet but – we encompass, obviously, the most traditional elements, which is the communications and marketing capabilities, but all of the go-to market assets, if you will, sit under me as well. So, our go-to market channels [including our managing partners in key markets, our client leaders and our industry practice leaders] and thought leadership, public policy, corporate citizenship, they have been put under me as well and so that’s unique and actually I’m hearing some of that. I’ve met with a few other CMOs that are doing some of the same things and have had some of the same responsibilities, and so what I like about it is that it’s really this combined essence of, really, how does the market — How do you drive growth? How do you really develop a marketplace?

The other thing we think is really important is digital. Obviously we have a strong digital practice and that serves our clients, but it also serves our in-house marketing team and that’s key to us being able to deliver our brand every day and create those kinds of experiences that we were talking about and deliver those insights. So I work very closely with the consultative arm of our Deloitte digital practice.

John: That’s a lot of stuff going on. That’s fantastic. Go ahead, Nicole.

The Future of Law Firm Marketing

Nicole: Shifting gears slightly and thinking about our legal marketing listeners more specifically, what do you see on the horizon in terms of transformation or potential paradigm shifts for law firm marketing?

Diana: It’s so interesting, Nicole, I think in many ways. Professional services, accounting, and consultancies like our firm and law firms, have some real similarities in this regard. I think digital marketing is going to continue to grow and that’s really for all of us, it’s not just legal markers. But we need to face it in a way that maybe some others don’t have the same issues, partly because we come from professionals where we’re highly skeptical. That’s just our profession, so we have to maybe be a bit more willing to get into the data around the success of digital and how that may in fact change us and work to be a better adopter of it. With some of the increased competition that’s there, I think if we don’t do that, the professional services environment has some challenges to stay ahead of the game, and that’s particularly going to be the case, I think, with talent. That’s going to be one of the big challenges if we don’t address that.

Certainly social media, obviously law firms are doing things in social media, but I think it will continue to be a big focus. It certainly has been for us. We have worked to become more engaged and use more outside platforms – and my own micro-site is an example – to sort of meet people where they are. We use LinkedIn more than we’ve ever used before to help us connect into the marketplace.  We’ve all got to figure out how to have our sites optimized for mobile so content can be more easily consumed. And again, when you come from a place where maybe adaptability is a little lower and skepticism is a bit higher, the mindset of professional services firms where we do have some of that, we have to work harder I think to embrace some of those things.

Marketing Technology

Nicole: It sounds to me like Deloitte is way ahead of the curve in terms of digital technology so I commend you and your firm on those efforts. What marketing technology do you see is getting the most buzz right now besides some of the things that you’re already working on?

Diana: It’s a good question. I have two things I want to say on this, one social listening is obviously incredibly important in content management systems or continuing to evolve publishing platforms, and it’s important that we stay thoughtful of that, but the number of channels that you now have to participate in is exhaustive, and it’s just growing, and I think it’s important that we not become sort of overwhelmed with the technology, but really solve specific business problems. One of the things I think that law firms can do is I think it’s important that they continue to differentiate themselves with eminence, and thought leadership, and specific things that you can differentiate yourself on. And one of the things I think that are particularly useful are – maybe not as technology-buzzing, if you will – but blogs and podcasts. I think they’re low-cost communication tools that really are a more direct engagement, and can connect more easily sometimes with the targeted audience that you want with the specialized information that you have.

Sometimes I think we can become sort of enamored with the technology. When I first took on I felt like, maybe the first four months, I was a bit enamored with the technology, but I kept coming back to, “Well, what problem am I really trying to solve for that’s going to drive my business?” While I think there are some interesting things out there that we all need to be aware of, I think it’s important to keep coming back to, “What problem am I solving?”

Marketing and Thought Leadership

John: As a follow-up to that, I love hearing you talk about thought leadership. I own a site,, and we do a lot of work around the idea that your experts and your thought leaders, especially in professional services, will help propel your blogging, and podcasting, and marketing, and SEO, and social media. Would you say that those blogs and podcasts can also then be used by your sales people in business development, and is it kind of streamlining your efforts or killing two birds with one stone by doing both of those things at once? Not just doing the blogs and podcasts for their own right for their search in social benefits and all of that, but to also potentially use for biz dev?

Diana: Yes, there’s no question, and actually we did something interesting this last year. We actually did an active online course on a couple key topics that we felt we were expert in, and what I feel happened as a result of that is the level of engagement that we were able to achieve. It’s actually really a form of marketing in today’s world which is more interactive. It isn’t this push of a message. It’s this engagement where, let’s say you put a blog out there, someone comments back. In [this case], people are commenting on the course. People are exchanging ideas over the content. So you’re evolving it and working it together. That’s the new world. That’s the new model. It isn’t something that is just, “Here’s my ideas and here they are.” It’s a dialogue and exchange that ultimately is more productive for everyone.

The Biggest Challenges for Law Firm Marketers

John: Absolutely, and what about specifically for law firms, what are the biggest challenges for law firm marketers?

Diana: I think, similarly, something similar that we have is how do you keep differentiating yourself in a saturated market? How do you promote your brand? How do you continually evolve, and innovate, and show that you’re uniquely qualified over someone else? Obviously eminence is one way to do that. Engaging is certainly a way. Thinking beyond law firms and professional services firms like Deloitte have, in the past, always charged – for example – by the hour, and that’s just been a mindset that’s gone in. Starting to think more about, “What’s the real value we’re bringing in?” Thinking of ways in which you can differentiate yourself. I think the marketer has a role now to play in helping to shape the thinking around that.

It isn’t just the message. It’s really the mindset of the organization. It’s the type of strategies and tactics that you will use, such as what we were just talking about in thought leadership. It’s how you create the client experience end-to-end, how you think about all the customer decision-making, how the customer feels at all those points that the marketer plays a role in. I think they have a really unique place to influence the many stake-holders, the many lawyers that are in the organization and how they show up at their clients.

But I think even more importantly than that is the future of where their talent is going to come from. I mentioned it before, but we did a study that was a digital study, we did it with MIT Sloan Management, and what we found was across all these age groups that, primarily, talent is really looking for organizations that are technically capable and receptive to employees being able to be digitally sophisticated. And we found that in many cases companies are not nearly as mature as the upcoming workforce and current workforce wants to be, and so that’s a challenge so we have to deal with that.

Conveying the Value of Marketing to Management

John: Yes, absolutely, especially younger people, and not just very young people, certainly into the 30s, and 40s, and above, but a lot of people are just so attuned to social media these days and searching on their mobile phones so if your organization is lagging in that it doesn’t inspire them. I often hear legal marketers complain how hard it is to convey the value of what they do to the management of their firms; do you have any advice for them?

Diana: I think this is something relatively new for CMOs, personally. I don’t, in my consultative time with clients, I think CMOs often didn’t really find their way into the C-suite, and I think that has changed. This is now a real opportunity to affect the C-suite.

I think the CMO had a chance to connect with the CFO about the metrics that drive sales. I think they are instrumental with working with the Chief Talent Officer about how to empower their employees to be better brand ambassadors, to reflect the culture in their business. I think they need to work with the CIO on any new technologies that might be touching the customer or extracting customer insight within the organization. So now they are really up here and I don’t think that was the case before. So they have a chance to change the perception of marketing and that’s new and it’s really a great kind to build new relationships and I think the advice I would have is not to underestimate the power that you have right now to influence and build key relationships with their peers, to have a sit at the table, to take your seat at the table and translate the customer experience, and bringing the customer championship into business results.

John: Yeah and as you said that earlier, really tying that up into your core mandate, your core value proposition and mission statement and making sure that marketing especially things like in the past, SEO or certain things were easy to kind of push a button and they would happen over on the side. Now they need to be much more integrated, right?

Diana: Yes and I think people consider those tactics. They thought, “Oh, well, just go do that.” Now it is an embedded part of the strategy and you can’t really have an organizational strategy without understanding how the marketing message is linking to that and how you are making them come to life in every element of the customer experience.

Content Marketing

John: Do you think content marketing has really driven a lot of that because if you could do digital marketing in the past, it was a little bit of a fairy dust, you know. You could kind of just sprinkle it on. Now you can’t just do that. You have to really develop content that has to reflect the brand or fail, right?

Diana: Yes. I said one time in a talk, and I thought I’d share it even at the conference, but I used to think of marketing as sort of a little m where it was about this message that you pushed out. And now it’s so much more. It’s really about the big M. It’s about the meaning.

John: Right.

Diana: And you are exactly right. That comes from the content that’s really there and it has to be rich.

John: Yes. And the CEO, the CFO, they should take an interest, and I think they are, more so than ever.

Diana: I do too. I do too.

John: What are you up to these days and how can listeners connect with you online?

Diana: Well, I have been pretty busy with the new role but what I have done most recently, I just left Deloitte University, which is a home to me every time I am there but we just had about a thousand of our folks there that sit in our market development organization that had spent two days thinking about, with a number of guest speakers, thinking about how are we going to continue to create the right connections and gain the right knowledge and to think about the right technologies to keep moving our organization forward.

We don’t have, you know — we’re big and it’s hard always to get people together and I’m glad we made that investment. It’s not always easy to do but it’s important when we do to make the most of it, and I think we did. So I was thrilled to be able to have our people together and I encourage, even when you know, with all the options to do things socially and online and virtually, sometimes being in person is the best way to really further that bond. So I was glad to do that.

So connecting with me, obviously please check out our website, first where you will get lots of relevant content that’s perfectly relevant to the CMO and I hope everybody goes there. My twitter handle is @DianaMOBrien and I welcome anyone and I’d like to have an exchange with anybody, and then certainly We welcome anybody to visit us there for our eminence.

John: Absolutely, well thanks for talking to us today and thanks for listening everyone to the National Law Review podcast. Visit the National Law Review website at and for more information about the Legal Marketing Association’s annual conference, visit I’m John McDougall and thanks for listening.

© 2016 The National Law Review

Marketing: How to Identify Your Ideal Target Market

The Rainmaker Institute

When it comes to marketing your law firm, identifying your target market is job #1.  If you don’t do that, nothing else you do will matter.

Many attorneys may struggle with developing a concise, detailed description of their target market, but it is vital that you do this or your marketing efforts will fall flat.

Ask yourself these 10 questions when trying to determine your target market:

1.  Who would pay for my service?  People that have legal issues need attorneys, so what specific problems do you solve and who is willing and able to pay for that solution?

2.  Who has already purchased my legal services?  Take a look at your current client base and search for commonalities.

3.  What is the extent of my reach?  What geographic area can you realistically serve?  Based on the type of law you practice, you may need to restrict or expand your area of service.  For example, a divorce attorney will probably have a smaller geographic area than an IP attorney.

4.  Am I making the right assumptions?  As I have said many times, you are not your client.  You need to talk to your existing clients or prospects to see what resonates.

5.  What do people who know me think?  Check in with your network peers to get feedback on who they think is your ideal client.  They may give you some ideas you might never have considered.

6.  How am I going to make money?  Are you charging by the hour or by the case?  This can determine who will be best able to afford your services.

7.  How am I going to sell my services?  Different marketing methods appeal to different demographics.  If your target skews young, social media will probably be a top priority for you.

8.  What are my competitors doing?  Looking at what your competitors are doing can help you define your target market – and then you can develop strategies for differentiating yourself.

9.  How will I find clients?  Once you have started identifying your target market, you will need to determine how you can market to them efficiently.  If you plan to use a website and social media as a key strategy, you will need to understand their online behavior patterns.  If you plan to get referrals, you will need a strategy to build a good referral partner base.

10.  Are there options to expand my target market?  This will largely depend on your practice area, but one way to expand your target market is by creating a niche within your practice area.  For example, if you are an estate planning attorney, you may want to develop a sub-specialty in asset protection for wealthy professionals.



I’ve Never Seen ANYTHING Like This Law Firm’s Holiday Card. Never.

Fishman Marketing logo

I’ve ranted about and railed against boring or clichéd holiday cards for decades, yet nearly every day in December another one or two (or ten) bland and politically correct cards featuring snowy landscapes or skylines, ice skaters, or children’s holiday artwork arrive, unsigned, in my mailbox.  <Open. Glance. Toss.>

Today’s mail, however, was pretty interesting.  I received just two cards, juxtaposed below. The one on the right was a fairly typical example, from an old friend, a terrific T&E lawyer I’ve known since we were ten years old.  Great guy, but I don’t love his annual too-safe “Seasons Greetings” cards.

Two different holiday cards

The card on the left was from California’s Springer & Roberts, “Disability Lawyers You Can Trust ®.”

Disability Lawyers You Can Trust ®

(First, I’ve never liked the “…  you can trust” tag lines, because it implies that your competitors are liars or cheats.  Plus, I’m immediately wary of anyone who promises that I can trust them.  But that’s not the point here.)

The card shows two lawyers dressed up in ballerina costumes while holding (1) a Benefits Law book and (2) a legal pad. Four adorable jammie’d kids, obviously their children are asleep below, “while visions of ERISA lawyers danced in their heads.”

Close-up of Holiday Cards featuring two Attorneys dressed up as Ballerinas

Now THAT is pretty gutsy, and the card certainly caught my attention. I don’t know these lawyers, but I can infer that they’re family-oriented and don’t take themselves too seriously.

The card’s punny headline, “We never dance around insurance companies, and our ERISA litigation is always en pointe!” is pretty forced.

We never dance around insurance companies, and our ERISA litigation is always en pointe!

But overall, you must respect the effort.  These lawyers clearly know who they are and their clients apparently like this about them.  They’ve broken through the clutter and conveyed their message pretty effectively.  They took a big risk, but I think it worked well for them. (I wonder what their card looked like last year? Is this an annual thing? )

while visions of ERISA lawyers danced in their heads

Of course, if you wanted to learn more about them, their website contains 2,000-word biographies, possibly the longest I’ve ever seen (that’s 8 double-spaced pages!).  I obviously only skimmed them, but I still got the sense that they’re nice, smart, and dedicated lawyers.

I’m glad these lawyers sent me their card.  And that’s not something I say every day. 

All images are copyrighted.



How to Measure Your Email Marketing Performance

The Rainmaker Institute

Email newsletters have proven to be one of the most effective methods for attorneys to market themselves to prospects, clients and referral sources.  Every year, email marketing service provider MailerMailer provides a report on email marketing metrics across 34 different industries, including Legal.

They have just issued their 2014 report, based on data gathered from 62,000 newsletter campaigns totaling 1.18 billion emails sent between Jan. 1, 2013 and Dec. 31, 2013.  Here are the results — and what should be your new benchmarks — for your law firm newsletter:

Open rate (what percentage of your recipients opened your email):  13.5%

Click rate (what percentage of your recipients clicked on a link in your email)::  1.6%

Click-to-open rate (of the recipients who opened your email, what percentage of them clicked on a link):  11.8%

Bounce rate (the percentage of emails that cannot be delivered):  2.4%

Every email service (Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, iContact, etc.) provides these statistics for each newsletter you send out.  If your newsletters are not delivering at rates that meet or exceed the benchmarks above, you have a problem.

Here’s what you should consider to improve your click, open and bounce rates:

Are your subject lines engaging to entice people to open your email?  Short subject lines — 4 to 15 characters — generate the highest open and click rates.

Are you sending emails on the right day and at the right time?  The highest open rates occur on Mondays and the highest click rates occur on Sundays.  Open rates peak during the early part of the day, between 8 a.m. and noon.

Is your email list updated regularly and cleaned of old, undeliverable email addresses?  Bounce rates are inescapable but can be improved if you send out emails on a regular basis.

Have you segmented your email list so you can tailor your content to your different audiences?  Targeted emails deliver 18 times more revenue than general blast emails.

Are your emails personalized? Personalizing the message content can boost open rates significantly.

Do you use a responsive design template so your emails are displayed properly for every screen size?  More than half of emails are now opened on mobile devices.

If your newsletters are performing at or above these benchmarks, you may still have some work to do: if you don’t know the source of your success, you can’t repeat it.



A 10-Point Health Check for Your Law Firm Marketing

The Rainmaker Institute

A legal news aggregation website called recently ran a post with a 10-point checklist of how law firms can gauge the health (and effectiveness) of their legal marketing programs.

Here’s the list — how are you performing?

1.  Does your firm encourage cross-selling among attorneys?  If you have multiple practice areas and lawyers who specialize in each area, then those lawyers should be cross-selling your services.  Make sure all your attorneys understand your total offerings.

2.  Is your staff involved in marketing?  Your legal marketing efforts should touch every member of your staff, who are your ambassadors to pass along your expertise to their contacts.

3.  Do you have a program for keeping in touch with former clients?  This is a no-brainer.  Add them all to your monthly e-newsletter list and establish a system for sending out keep-in-touch emails that doesn’t require any babysitting from busy lawyers.

4.  Are all your lawyers engaged in business development?  If not, implement a training program on your marketing messaging and encourage them to get out and network.

5.  Is your website current?  An out-of-date website tells prospects that your firm is out of date.

6.  Is anyone managing your online reputation?  Reputation management is critical for law firms.  You should have this task assigned to someone (internal or external) who regularly conducts online searches for your firm name and attorney names. If something bad pops up, you should have a process for dealing with it effectively.

7.  Are all your attorney bios up to date online?  Every attorney should have a complete and current bio with a professional photos on LinkedIn, Avvo, Martindale, etc.

8.  Do you have a blog?  A blog is one of the best ways for you to market to your niche, highlighting your practice areas and pumping out fresh content that showcases your expertise in each.

9.  Are you providing added value to clients?  Providing clients with value above and beyond what they are paying for will keep them coming back.

10. Are you micro-managing the client experience?  Do clients have to wait when they show up for an appointment?  Are you offering them something to drink and making them feel at home?  If not, you need to take another look at how your firm treats clients because they are measuring you not just against other law firms but against every service provider they know.  And if they don’t like the fit, they won’t be back.