The attorney marketing paradox


There’s a paradox to this whole marketing legal services business. To be successful, you need to do something, and you also need to do the opposite.

You need to fit in and also stand out.

Fit in because you want to convey the image of an attorney consistent with the image most people have in their mind.

Most people think of attorneys as sober professionals, with an office and clients, a briefcase, business cards, and business attire. They expect attorneys to comport themselves a certain way when they speak to people, say things attorneys say, ask questions attorneys ask.

If you differ too much form that image, people get nervous.

Despite the popularity of “The Lincoln Lawyer” book and movie, most clients don’t want to meet you curbside.

At the same time, you don’t want to look and sound like every other attorney. You want to be different.

If you look the same, sound the same, and appear to do everything the same as every other attorney on your block, you offer clients no reason to choose you.

They might as well flip a coin.

So, that’s the paradox. You want to fit in and stand out. Make people comfortable so they trust you, and show them something different so they can see why they should choose you.

How you do this?

Mostly, you give people what they want and expect. You play the game. Assume the role. Walk the walk and talk the talk.

If it walks like a duck, it’s a duck. If you look like an experienced and successful attorney, in the eyes of the public, you are.

But that only gets you in the running. You still want to stand out.

You could do something with fashion. Wear a hat, a bow tie, or purple socks. Wear cuff links or a pin in a distinctive shape–an animal you like, a symbol you identify with, a shape that implies power or success, passion or justice.

Something people will recognize and remember. “Oh, she’s the attorney with the Gecko pin.”

But fashion is only one way to stand out and there are other ways that are better.

What do you do in your practice that’s unique and implies a benefit for your clients? That’s how you want to stand out.

Most attorneys don’t make house calls. Maybe you do. Most attorneys don’t have sign-language interpreters on staff or on call; maybe you do. Most attorneys don’t offer a free second meeting with new clients, to do a deeper dive into the facts and map out a plan of action. Maybe that’s something you could do.

The thing is, whatever you do doesn’t literally have to be unique. You can make it appear that way and “own” that advantage by promoting it broadly when other attorneys don’t.

Most attorneys use a questionnaire or form when they interview a client. They have a list of questions to ask, with blanks to record the answers, and a list of “instructions” to give to new clients. It ensures you don’t forget to ask something and shows the client you’ve handled this type of case so often you have your own special form.

Most attorneys might use this, but most attorneys don’t promote that they do. They assume every attorney uses a form or checklist and don’t see it as a big deal.

But it might be a big deal to prospective clients in your niche who don’t know that most attorneys use a checklist or intake form.

When you describe the forms and process you use to interview a new client, in detail, you might find a lot of clients choosing you because of that difference.

For more on how to stand out from other attorneys, get The Attorney Marketing Formula