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Law firm marketing is not a new concept. Solo and small firm practitioners were practicing marketingeven before they used the term to describe what they were doing. Consider this advice to young lawyers from a principal in a two-lawyer firm back in the mid-19th century: “Extemporaneous speaking should be practiced and cultivated. It is the lawyer’s avenue to the public. However able and faithful he may be in other respects, people are slow to bring him business if he cannot make a speech.” These are surely not the most famous words to come from Abraham Lincoln, but just like the Gettysburg Address, they stand the test of time. In fact, they may be no less valid in 2003 than they were when he delivered them in his essay “Notes on the Practice of Law” in 1850. But although public speaking may be the most venerable tactic endorsed by lawyers and marketing experts today, it’s only the starting point for most modern-day marketing plans. Yet law firm marketing is as varied as the lawyers who practice it, an informal survey of area lawyers and firms shows. What is marketing? “Too often a lawyer’s idea of marketing is advertising,” says Reid Trautz, director of the D.C. Bar’s Lawyer Practice Assistance Program, which provides bar members with free and confidential practice management services. Marketing can include advertising, says Trautz, but it’s not solely taking out ads. “Marketing is not something we were expecting to do in our legal careers,” continues Trautz. “We have the necessary skills, but it often gets a low priority.” But, Trautz warns, lawyers ignore marketing at their own risk. “Law is a business of referrals,” he says. A solid marketing plan will help you identify the right cases and the right clients. One of the most unhappy mistakes you can make, Trautz says, is to build a practice where you dislike the work and the clients. To avoid that fate, you must get to know where your best business is coming from and why. For divorce and family law specialist Linda Ravdin, a partner at Pasternak & Fidis, an 11-lawyer firm in Bethesda, this knowledge proved key. “I used to think there was a big secret to marketing,” she says. “But eventually I realized my best source of work wasn’t clients but lawyers.” With that realization, Ravdin was able to fashion a relatively straightforward marketing plan: “Get out and meet my fellow lawyers.” To that end, Ravdin became active in bar associations, professional societies, and CLE programs. When she first started out, it wasn’t unusual for her to attend bar functions four or five times a week, Ravdin says. “If you participate on committees, other lawyers don’t see your legal work, but they do see you,” she says. To gain their respect and hopefully their referrals, it’s important to do a diligent job. “You must do what you promise to do,” she explains, adding, “When I agree to participate on a committee, I go to every meeting.” “Getting out and meeting people” is also a strategy employed by Margaret McKinney of Bethesda’s three-lawyer Bouquet & McKinney. McKinney finds that getting out into the community and getting to know people leads to business referrals. “Sometimes, they’re impossible to trace,” she says. D.C. solo practitioner J. Gordon Forester Jr., whose practice consists primarily of trial work, says that most of his work comes from referrals from other lawyers � many of them lawyers he has faced in court. “I really don’t do marketing, as such,” he says. But he never passes up the opportunity to renew an acquaintance or hand out his business card. “Lawyers look after themselves,” he says, “but they also look after clients they can’t handle.” Forester cites what he calls “the 48-hour rule.” If he should run into a lawyer he hasn’t seen in a while at the courthouse or, let’s say, at a meeting of his law school alumni association, Forester finds that if the lawyer has work for him, he or she will generally get back in touch within 48 hours. Forester chuckles at the unscientific nature of his rule, but says that real-life experience has proved its validity time and again. In their pursuit of networking, some lawyers have overextended themselves trying to participate in too many extracurriculars. To avoid that trap, Becky Mangus, the president of Marketing Solutions Unlimited, an Ellicott City, Md.-based company that provides marketing, public relations, graphic design, and editorial services, suggests that you pick just a few professional associations or societies and not spread yourself too thin. “You get out of it what you put into it,” she says. Mangus tells her lawyer clients to choose three organizations: a professional legal association, a professional business association, and an organization dedicated to a particular passion, be it gardening or hot rods or whatever. Her advice is to be diverse � you never can tell where your next referral will come from. Mangus also strongly urges her clients to write for professional journals and newspapers and to make sure contact information is in the biographical information accompanying any article you place. “You instantly become the expert.” With visibility comes credibility, she says. This is a path taken by Charles Fleischer of five-lawyer Oppenheimer, Fleischer & Quiggle in Bethesda. Says Fleischer: “I do a lot of speaking and writing on employment.” In addition to professional journals, Fleischer writes for his firm’s monthly newsletter. Pasternak & Fidis’ Ravdin also strongly believes in publication as a marketing tool. Writing is where her interests now lie, she says. Two recent works are Marital Agreements(BNA, Tax Management Division) and The Domestic Relations Manual for the District of Columbia(Lexis Nexis Matthew Bender). Pasternak & Fidis also produces a newsletter every three or four months. “We’ve gotten good feedback from our clients,” Ravdin reports. “We’re very encouraged.” THE EDUCATION ANGLE “Good marketing is good marketing no matter what the profession,” says Marketing Solutions’ Mangus. This may be true, but marketing for a law firm does present special concerns. “Law is not a business where you sell widgets,” says Wayne Cohen, the managing partner of D.C.’s Cohen & Cohen, a firm he founded with his wife, Jill. Cohen has developed a multifaceted marketing plan for his eight-lawyer personal injury firm, aimed at both his clientele and other lawyers, for referrals. Cohen & Cohen advertises more aggressively than most firms, running print and television advertisements. The firm also places large display ads in the Yellow Pages. (A word here in digression about the Yellow Pages. As consultant Mangus points out, “The Yellow Pages can be quite expensive.” She says that most small firms will not want to spend their money there. But she advises, “At the very least, get a bold entry. If you can afford a tag line or slogan, do so.”) One surprising source of referrals for Cohen has been his teaching. “I always wanted to teach,” says Cohen, who has been an associate professorial lecturer at the George Washington University Law School since 1993, where he has taught advocacy to first-years and trial skills to third-years. He says that as his students have started entering the legal community, more and more of them have started referring clients to his firm. Cohen is also proud of the attention he and his firm have received in the media, and he uses his newspaper appearances for marketing purposes. In a kit of information he sends to prospective clients, he includes a healthy sampling of press clippings. The conference room at Cohen & Cohen’s offices is decorated with framed copies of these articles, as well. They also appear on the firm’s Web site, www.cohenandcohen.net. CYBERMARKETING “Having a Web site today is like having a fax machine 15 years ago,” says James Eric Trela, president of Trela Computer Inc., a Lutherville, Md.-based information technology and electronic marketing company. “A lot of people when they want something go to the Web.” Web sites are indispensable for promoting your firm, he says. “That’s what people expect,” says Pasternak & Fidis’ Ravdin, who adds that her firm has recently been putting in a lot of energy on improving its Web site ( www.pasternakfidis.com). One firm that has made innovative use of its Web site is the 10-lawyer Lewis Law Firm. At its site ( www.lewislawfirm.com), the D.C.-based firm offers, for example, streaming video of its founder and chairman Glenn Lewis on BBC-TV explaining the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bush v. Goreto a British audience. Cindy DeVore, the firm’s director of communications, explains that the Lewis Law Firm didn’t have a Web presence when she came aboard three and a half years ago. In fact, “there was a real need to start a marketing program,” she says. She started first with brochures containing general information about the firm. DeVore designed them herself. “A little bit of training and the right software can go a long way,” she says. Brochures aren’t the only publications produced by the Lewis Law Firm. The firm does family law exclusively, and many of the firm’s referrals come from mental health and family counselors. So the firm targets these professionals by sending about 500 of them a quarterly newsletter, Family Choices.Besides articles written by firm members and a roster of support groups, it includes information about the firm’s lawyers. Lewis since 1990 has been producing “Law Weekly,” a public-interest TV show he hosts and executive produces and that has until recently appeared on cable stations DCTV in the District, Channel 10 in Fairfax County, and MCTV in Montgomery County. The show is targeted to the general public, but Lewis points out that he has an extremely high viewership among the bench and the bar. Yet in a matter of weeks, “Law Weekly” is set to become “LawWeekly.tv” on streaming video. One new show a week will be produced in a makeshift studio in a corner of the law firm’s library, and at any given time, Internet users worldwide will be able to view the three or four shows that will be available online. A production company, Amicus Curiae Productions, is being formed to produce and manage the show. Lewis bristles at the suggestion that the program was conceived for marketing purposes. The show is educational, a public service, he says. “The public doesn’t understand the law. We want to help them.” Viewers will know of the Lewis Law Firm’s connection to the program, he says, only if they read the small print at the end of the credits. For the many years his show aired on cable stations, Lewis points out, he never once received a client from the ranks of the viewing audience. (He does admit, however, that a client or two may have come his way as a result of referrals from legal professionals who have appeared as guests on the program.) The question of whether the Web site is a marketing tool or not may be moot. As the D.C. Bar’s Trautz says, “For a lawyer, marketing is everything seen by the client.” The best marketing you can do is to be a good lawyer. As Lincoln said in his “Notes on the Practice of Law”: “The leading rule for the lawyer, as for the man of every calling, is diligence.

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