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There’s tremendous competition among Philadelphia lawyers to attract new clients. What separates one litigator from another? What separates one real estate lawyer from another? What separates one matrimonial lawyer from another? How about medical malpractice lawyers, trusts and estates lawyers or criminal defense lawyers. Each of them wants to attract new clients and increase earnings. They may join clubs, donate time to public charities, support political leaders, speak at trade association meetings, and write articles they hope will cause their phones to ring and emails to flow into their computers. Yet, what if all those efforts fall short. What to do?

How to Stand Apart

Too many lawyers run with the herd and are indistinguishable from their colleagues. They don’t position themselves as independent experts. Yet, no one will hire a lawyer who is interchangeable with another lawyer. Every client wants to hire only the best ­lawyers, just as all patients want to be treated by the best doctors. To stand apart from the herd, one must begin by building a reputation, step by step, from the ground up. To begin, one should publish bylined articles in prestigious journals, especially those read by prospective clients. For example, if one is a labor relations lawyer who represents a corporation, one should publish in periodicals read by CEOs and presidents, as well as by senior human resource executives. Those articles should be sent with a cover letter to targeted executives, inviting each of them to contact the lawyer with any questions they may have. The next step is to be the subject of news stories that should also be marketed through email and direct mail. The news stories should position the lawyer as an expert who has just won an important case, or negotiated a valuable deal or offered expert commentary on a topical issue. Those news stories and bylined articles can be reinforced by putting on seminars, webinars and conferences. A series of ongoing press releases are ­essential. Too many attorneys do not effectively market their accomplishments, neither to spheres of influence nor to prospective clients. They may not hide their victories under a barrel, but they don’t sell the sizzle. News stories that are the subject of one’s accomplishments can also highlight one’s overall legal skills and creativity in formulating winning strategies and tactics. In addition, after one is recognized as a leading authority on certain legal issues, one can be called upon to offer commentary on topical legal subjects, even though one may not have direct involvement in the subject under discussion. For example, years ago, one of my clients, a prominent Philadelphia labor relations lawyer appeared on “PBS NewsHour,” where he offered an explanation of management’s position on a UPS strike. He did not represent UPS, but his expertise resulted in his being retained by other trucking companies.

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