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Editor’s note: The following is the third excerpt from “Hit the Jackpot,” our cover story from the inaugural issue of Small Firm Business . This article profiles several law firms that have creative, innovative marketing campaigns. Establishing a clear identity is the foundation of any effective marketing plan. To distinguish your firm from the competition, consider extreme niche marketing.Case in point: Washington D.C.’s Goldstein & Howe, a husband-and-wife firm that has staked out the most narrow of specialties — the U.S. Supreme Court. “We are a thousand times more effective when we say we are the only law firm that focuses principally on the Supreme Court,” says Thomas Goldstein. “Once you’ve defined yourself as the only person who does something, then you’ve automatically defined yourself as the people who know the most about it.” Goldstein established the firm in 1999 on the top floor of his home, near American University. Wife Amy Howe, a former associate at Steptoe & Johnson, joined the firm in 2000. Working from a home office helps the couple keep costs in check. But don’t think they pare their fees. Goldstein — formerly of Boies, Schiller & Flexner, and Jones Day — may be only 33, but he charges big firm rates: $475 per hour. He made his first appearance before the nation’s top court at the ripe age of 28, and was named last year as one of the nation’s top 45 lawyers under 45 by The American Lawyer (SFB’s sister publication). Besides his age, the numbers are impressive. In the five years since he founded the firm, revenues have exploded, exceeding $1 million in 2002 and 2003. His cases, by definition, are high profile: He sat second chair to David Boies in the Bush v. Gore battle, and took the same seat next to Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe in the Nike Inc. v. Kasky advertising suit, and the New York Times Co. v. Tasini copyright dispute. The firm’s client roster includes a range from corporate giants such as PG&E Corp. and the General Electric Co. down to smaller companies and even individuals. How did he get so profitable so fast? His marketing secret: pro bono work that helps keep the firm on the high court’s docket. With little experience, Goldstein began by working on pro bono matters to build his expertise. In fact, Goldstein & Howe served as counsel in one out of every seven cases at the Supreme Court in its first year. Often, there is little money at stake in the pro bono cases, but there are large issues that literally can be the difference between life and death. In 2002 the firm helped get a stay in a capital case from Tennessee just 36 hours before the scheduled execution of Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman. To reinforce the firm’s niche, Goldstein has added a Supreme Court blog to his Web site, goldsteinhowe.com, a daily journal of key events and news clippings about Supreme Court cases. Though the blog gets roughly 2,000 hits each day, Goldstein readily acknowledges that the Web site has been far more important in building the firm’s gravitas. Goldstein and Howe are optimistic about the future. “Every year we’ve gotten to argue two cases, but our volume of paying cases continues to grow,” says Goldstein. “And the proportion of cases that come about because I’ve gone after them, versus people coming to us, has gone down.”
Read the first segment of this story: Making the ‘Bar Circuit’ Builds Entertainment Law Practice

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