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Being a Good Lawyer Won’t Make You Rich

I’m sure you’re a good lawyer. Smart. Capable. Experienced. Sharp. Maybe even caring (unlike what our reputation would have the general public believe)

But... Being good or even great won’t get you more clients.

Because there’s zero correlation between how good you are and how much money you make.

Why? Because if your prospects don’t know you're good, they won’t choose you. Heck, you can be the best attorney in the world, but if nobody knows it, you’ll have nobody to be the best attorney for.

See what I mean?

There are 1.2 million lawyers in the US and every year we’re minting 50,000 more.  All of them willing to work at cut rates. All of them waiving their degrees and their client wins in an effort to get more business.

And they’re probably going to get more business than you, because they’re out there telling everybody about themselves. While you, having been around the block, aren’t hustling as much anymore.

You did what it took to get the practice started, you were that hustler at the beginning. You promoted yourself, at least some. But now that you’re a few years out, you’re not.

And you start listening to the horrible advice most lawyers tell each other (“just do good work and the business will be there”). And now that horrifically bad thinking has eroded your marketing over time without you realizing it.

Knowing you’re a good lawyer may help you sleep at night, but won’t grow your practice.

Why "Good Work" Isn't Marketing

You’ve probably seen lawyers who are all marketing, without the skills to back it up. And (if you’re like me) shudder at the thought that you’ll be doing that, face plastered on a billboard.

So you stick with old-school “do a good job” marketing, with an occasional networking lunch thrown in.

Well, guess what. Mr. Billboard is probably earning a multiple of what you are.

Why? Because nobody knows if you do a good job until the matter is over. Think about it this way: buyers of legal services – whether consumers or companies – have no way of knowing whether you’re any good. The only thing they can know is your price, what others tell them, and what you tell them.

If they’re coming referred, then what others tell them can help. The problem is, most lawyers don’t have enough referrals for “what others tell them” to move the needle. And even if others are saying good things, if they show up in your office and you don’t reinforce it, they’re still not confident in choosing you.

Which means, you need to tell clients what to think about your services.

Prospective client’s aren’t lawyers. They don’t know how to make a good buying decision. And by hiding behind a “good job” and not marketing, you’re making their lives harder, not easier. You’ve left them in the confusing, anxiety-ridden process of finding and hiring a lawyer.

You need to help prospective clients make the good decision of hiring you. (And no, your resume-style website isn’t helping them, more on that rant another time.)

It doesn’t mean you need to be on a billboard. It doesn’t mean that you need to be cheesy or manipulative.

Marketing that works is about educating your prospect on how to make a good choice.

What happens if you don’t, if you stick to an anti-marketing mindset? That the very notion of marketing is distasteful? Well, every prospective client you refuse to market is going to Mr. Billboard. And getting crappy representation. Not only that, it’s making Mr. Billboard very, very wealthy.

Instead of you.

As long as you stick to the notion that marketing is about the work itself, rather than about the customer – the client – and helping them make a decision, you’re destined to have poor marketing results.

So re-frame what marketing is. Use your marketing to help the prospect, whether or not they hire you. And Profit.

Raj Jha