What kind of law firm are you in?
There are two types of law firms. First, we've got the eat-what-you-kill law firm, where attorneys share a brand, but not much else. After the house takes a cut, business they generate is the money they take home. But, you've got some autonomy to sink or swim on your own.
Second, you have a traditional law firm with multiple partners who split everything equally, or more or less equally.
The model you choose will have serious implications on how you market the firm ... and whether or not you’ll survive if the firm’s no longer there.
Marketing by Committee Ties Your Hands
At an eat-what-you-kill firm, you've got the flexibility to market without consensus. You can try different types of marketing without worrying about upsetting your partners. You can take a flier, and reap the rewards.
At a traditional firm, everything is shared equally, so most of the time, everyone has a say in the firm’s marketing. Sounds fair and sensible, doesn't it? But more often than not, it means marketing paralysis. New things don't get tried.
Because lawyers are inherently conservative (we're trained that way, after all), and legal marketing is inherently awful, marketing by committee just makes things worse. Everything gets watered down. You try to appeal to everybody, and you end up appealing to nobody.
This is why most legal marketing ends in a “deleted” folder or a trash can.
What Is Your Personal Goal?
Put the firm in the backseat for a sec. Let's talk about you. What are your personal goals? Why are you practicing law in the first place?
Ultimately, you want to make a big impact - on your clients, your community, and importantly - for yourself. If you want to make an impact, don't bind your hands with the chains of consensus.
In other words, you need the freedom to choose a marketing strategy that’s actually going to work, no matter what kind of firm you're working for.
Click here to get access to my free Law Practice Growth Guide that shows you how to grow your law firm predictably and create freedom for yourself.
No Firm Lasts Forever
During the last 10-15 years, we’ve seen major firms collapse. We’ve seen partners de-equitized, leaving attorneys (who thought themselves safe) to fend for themselves.
Many smaller traditional firms I talk with are getting destabilized with the economy, partners going their own way far more frequently than a decade ago.
Even if you think your firm will last forever, you might not last forever at your firm.
Then what? If you have your Rolodex and you know how to market, you’ll be fine. If not, you’re dead in the water.
That’s why it’s absolutely imperative to build your own book of business. The goodwill, trust, and loyalty of your clients should go to YOU, not the firm. Yes, the firm will benefit now. And yes, you need to do the right thing when you're in a practice with others. But don't take that to the extreme and leave yourself exposed.
Figure out how to market in a way that really works. Not bland, consensus marketing that your partners think is "the only respectable way to do it" or "the way everyone's doing it, and we always have". Ask the only question that matters - "what works?"
Build the trust and loyalty of clients, former clients, your community - in you. This way, you become the asset, not some entity that may not be there to provide for you down the road.
How Do You Make Sure Your Business Is Truly Your Business?
Ask this: if your firm dissolves tomorrow, how much business would you take with you? If that number isn’t at or near 100 percent, your future is a lot less certain than you might want.
If you’ve been earning business for the firm and not yourself, you’re taking a risk. You’re building a book for other people - and you may have to start over from scratch.
It doesn't have to be that way. Learn how to market effectively. And build loyalty that helps you (and whatever firm you want to work with) for years to come.