New law practice: How do I get the word out?

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I got an email last week: “Do you have suggestions for getting the word out on new (solo) law firms”

Q: Press releases to big city newspapers?

Unless your announcement qualifies as news, these are unlikely to get printed. If you are semi-famous or you’re planning to do something very unusual in your law practice, a press release might get picked up. Otherwise, probably not.

If you want to go this route, your best bet is to send them to niche publications: small town newspapers (where you grew up or your dad was well known), blogs or magazines in a market where you have a connection, that sort of thing.

Q: Mailing announcements to the Bar list (of business attorneys) and/or business owners?

Announcements mailed to other lawyers or business owners are a waste of time. They don’t know you and they don’t care that you’re opening your own office.

You could mail something they would care about: a free report that helps them protect themselves or their clients or earn more in their business or practice. A postcard that offers a report like that, and sends them to your web site to get it, would cost a lot less than actually mailing the report. It could bring lots of traffic, opt-ins, and eventually, some business. However, even post cards are expensive and you need to know what you’re doing.

This can be a viable way get clients, but for a new practice with limited funds, it’s not the best place to start.

Q: Hiring a service to send email announcements to the Bar list and to our own contact list?

Emailing to people you don’t know (i.e., Bar list) could get you into trouble for spamming. There are legitimate “opt in” lists available where people have given permission to receive email, and there are services that will provide these lists and do the emailing for you, but you would be wasting your time and your money.

Again, they don’t know you and they don’t care about your announcement.

However, emailing or sending announcements via regular mail to your own contact list is a great idea.

You should definitely send an announcement to the people you know. Friends, family, people you know from college and law school, and former employers. If you have a connection of any kind, put them on your list.

They do care about you and what you are doing. They will read your announcement. They may respond and wish you the best of luck. At some point, they may also send some business.

Here are my three “rules” for announcing a new law practice:

  1. Send your announcement to everyone you know; don’t bother with strangers, unless you have a very good reason to do so and the budget to pay for it.
  2. An announcement is okay; a letter is much better. Write a semi-personal letter that gives the who, what, where, when, and why of your announcement. Why are opening your own office? What do you want to accomplish? Who are you looking to help? What will you do for them? People will look at an engraved announcement for three seconds and then throw it out. Those same people will take their time reading a heart-felt letter on plain paper or in an email. They will remember your story and may even share it with others.
  3. Don’t rely on a one-time mailing. Follow up your announcement with additional communication–a newsletter, calls, invitations to your grand opening, personal visits. Stay in touch with them, remind them again and again about what you do and for whom you do it, and ask for their help.

Even if there are only 100 people on your initial list, these are the people to whom you should announce your new practice. They do know you and they are willing to help.

They may not be able to send you any business (right now), but they can help promote your web site, like your page, or distribute your new report. They can help you get the word out.

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