By Christopher J. Schulte of Merchant & Gould, P.C.
I have been practicing law for 20 years now, and have spent a fair amount of that time trying to understand how professional services are marketed. I suppose a less academic way of saying that is I have spent most of my career frantically trying to get new clients and more work. I have enjoyed some success in this regard building an international trademark practice from humble beginnings at an insurance defense firm to eventual partnership at a national intellectual property firm. Once at my new firm I served as the marketing partner for a few years, which also offered some valuable lessons about law firm sales efforts. As a result (and like many before me) I have some observations about this topic, particularly for attorneys who are new to the profession.
When I first started practicing law I was so excited about having a service to offer that I thought I would approach some of the businesses in my suburb and hand them a card. Of course, as I was brand new to law, there was not much I could sell them. I had no concept of how matters were handled in a law firm, or in a court for that matter, so my zeal to market was tempered by my inexperience. And my state’s professional ethics rules prohibited such solicitation in any event. So I did not undertake this fledgling marketing effort and decided instead to watch how my partner-bosses handled such things.
My first observation related to the firm’s existing clients and...