The key to marketing a general practice


The key to marketing a general practice is simple: don’t do it.

You’ll get much better results marketing each practice area or service separately, because most prospective clients are looking for solutions to specific problems.

When they need a divorce lawyer, they search for “divorce lawyer” not “general practice”.

They want an expert. Someone who eats and breathes divorce law and is the best of the best at that. . . not “everything”.

Don’t confuse people by marketing all of your services in the same breath. Tell them about divorce issues, and share stories about divorce clients you’ve helped. Let them see you as the divorce lawyer they’re looking for.

Yes, that means more work and more expense—websites, content, ads, keywords, and marketing collateral. But that’s what you have to do if you want to compete with lawyers who “specialize”. Or appear to because they market each practice area separately.

You can ALSO have a website and marketing collateral that features all of your practice areas, but that’s more about branding and reputation.

If you want traffic and leads, if you want to build your email list, fill seats at your events and your waiting room with new clients, market one practice area, service, or solution at a time.

There are exceptions. Practice areas you can combine and market together. Estate Planning and Elder Law, Personal Injury and Workers’ Comp, and Business Transactions and Business Litigation, for example.

But maybe you shouldn’t.

If you get a lot of referrals from other lawyers (or you want to) and they see you do the same thing they do, they might be reluctant to refer clients to you.

If you handle PI, maybe you don’t want to refer comp clients to a firm that handles comp and PI.

Just sayin.

More on this subject in The Attorney Marketing Formula


Two goals for your website


When someone arrives at your website, you want two things to happen.

First, you want them to give you their email address, so you can follow up with them since the odds are they won’t call you on their first visit.

In fact, if your website does nothing else but capture the identity of visitors, it will have served its purpose.

Many people build profitable businesses with a simple landing page and an enticing offer. No other information, no address, no list of products or services, not even their name. That all comes later, via email.

I’m not saying this is what you should do. But if you wanted to, you could.

Assuming you have a more traditional website, that leads to the second goal. Achieving this second goal will make achieving the first goal much more likely.

Your second goal is to convince the visitor that they’ve found the right lawyer.

Can you do that on their first visit? To a great extent, you can. You can show visitors that you have the knowledge and experience to help them with their specific problem or aim.

Key word here is “specific”.

You convince someone, first-time visitor or otherwise, that the work you do, the problems you solve, the benefits you deliver, are exactly what they want and need.

The simplest way to do that is to show them you specialize.

You don’t do “everything,” like many lawyers; you’re not a Jack or Jill of all trades. You focus on providing solutions to the very problem they’re having, the problem that prompted them to come looking for an attorney.

Choose one practice area exclusively, or lead with one practice area and “hide” the others, in the footer of your site or on other pages.

Or on other websites.

When someone finds your website, you want them to see they’ve come to the right place. Show them that and they’ll want to learn more. Show them everything you do and you dilute the effect and may drive them to keep looking.

Clients prefer lawyers who specialize. The same way patients prefer doctors who do. The way you prefer to hire a lawyer who consults with lawyers on marketing, rather than a marketing generalist.

More: The Attorney Marketing Formula


How to get paid more for your services


If you want to earn more than other lawyers in your field and do it more consistently and with less effort, I have some advice for you:

Target people with money.

Not the low end of the market. Not the price shoppers. Not merely people with problems you can fix but people with problems you can fix who have the money to pay for the solutions you offer.


Hold on. In order to land this type of client, you need to persuade them that you can give them what they want.

What do they want?

They want an expert. A lawyer who specializes in problems like theirs and clients like them.

They’re willing to pay more for that lawyer because they believe a specialist has a higher degree of knowledge and experience and, more than anything else, they want a lawyer they can count on to get the job done.

They want to know that if they hire you, you will take care of the problem, without unnecessary delays or complications.

They’ve buying peace of mind, and they’re willing to pay top dollar for it.

There are many ways to convince these clients you can do the job, but the simplest way is to get referred to them.

The referring party, client or professional, essentially vouches for your expertise and reliability.

You don’t have to persuade the client you can do the job, the referring party does it for you, in great part simply because they are referring you.

So, if I were in your shoes, I’d do what I could to make referrals the core of my marketing.

And, in order to get referrals to clients with money, I’d make sure I got some clients with money and made friends with professionals who represent clients with money, so they can refer their friends and clients to me.

Because you get referrals to clients with money by targeting clients with money.

This will help you get more referrals


A simple way to build trust


I don’t know if you know this but, uh, you’re not perfect. You can’t do everything, nor do you do everything equally well. Instead of trying to hide your weaknesses and risk sounding defensive when they are inevitably discovered, you’ll do better admitting them up front.

You know this is true in the courtroom. You tell the jury about the weaknesses in your case before your opposition does it. You know that this not only deflates their power over you, your transparency makes the jury more likely to believe you when you tell them about your case’s strengths.

Admitting your weaknesses also helps build trust in marketing.

Tell prospective clients the types of cases or matters you don’t handle, but let them know you can recommend someone who does.

When I went from a general practice to a 100% personal injury practice, I turned down or referred everything that wasn’t PI and watched my PI practice quickly grow.

Today, I freely acknowledge that I am not an expert in social media marketing. Far from it. In fact, in just about every interview I give, I make a point of telling the interviewer this, early in the conversation. When most other marketing ex-purts are telling lawyers they have to get on board the social media train, my position gives me a point of differentiation. (It also gives me an advantage among lawyers who don’t like social media and would rather not do it.)

Tell the world what you do, and also what you don’t do. Admit your weaknesses, turn down work that isn’t a strength, and watch your practice grow.

How to choose the right specialty for you


What if you don’t like what you do but can’t change that?


In response to yesterday’s trip down memory lane, attorney RG asked, “What if you don’t like what you do (law but can’t change that). . .”

I love a good challenge and “can’t change that” is about as good as it gets.

Of course you can change that, RG.

It might be difficult, emotionally wrenching, expensive, and take a long time, but it can be done. Many lawyers do it and so can you.

Start by asking yourself questions like, “How can I change my situation? What would I like to do instead? How do I find a way to “like” what I do?”

You can change your situation but first you must give yourself permission to do it. Before you can do that, you must give yourself permission to believe that it’s possible.


I don’t know what it is that you don’t like about your work but I peeked at your website and see that (a) you are a sole practitioner who offers an array of services, and (b) you do litigation.

My first suggestion is to look at ways to reconstitute your practice areas.

Choose a practice area you like (or hate less) and focus on that. Take a partner or refer everything else out.

If litigation is a source of stress and long hours and “don’t like,” you can change that too. You can outsource some or all of it. Get an “of counsel” relationship with a firm and let them do the heavy lifting. Hire someone and keep it in house. Or refer it out.

Hold on, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that if you have fewer practice areas and outsource your litigation you’ll lose income and you can’t afford that. Am I right?

Well, what if that didn’t happen? What if you find that specializing allows you to increase your income? And what if the time you free up by outsourcing some or all of your litigation gives you room to bring in more of the work you enjoy and that pays well?

That’s what I found when I did it.

At first, turning away business was scary. But the vacuum i created by doing so was soon filled with work that paid more and required less time. If you’ve read my stuff, you know that I quadrupled my income and reduced my work-week to three days.

I’m sure there are other issues that cause you to want to “get out”. Many of these are fixable, too.

But if you can’t fix them, start working on a plan to get out.

Here’s how I did it:

I got good at marketing and built up a war chest that gave me options.

I started two side businesses The first helped me to replace my practice income. The second provided me with passive income which allowed me to retire and do what I love.

I don’t know who said it but this quote seems to fit: “You should either do what you love, or find something that gives you enough time and money to do what you love.”

How to choose your specialty (and why you should): here


Lawyers as clients


They say that lawyers make the worst clients in the same way that physicians make the worst patients. They know too much and have their own ways of doing things. They second guess everything and often don’t follow your advice. And when something goes wrong, guess who they blame?

It’s all ego, and if you’ve ever had a lawyer for a client, there’s a good chance you swore you would never do that again.

As someone who consults with lawyers, I feel your pain. So why do I continue to target them (you)?

  • Because there’s a huge need, given that so many lawyers aren’t good at marketing but realize they need to do it
  • Because lawyers have money and can afford to hire me and buy my stuff
  • Because marketing to lawyers is easier, more effective, and less expensive/time-consuming than it would be if I offered my products and services to everyone who wants to get more clients or customers and increase their income.

For those reasons and others, I suggest you consider targeting lawyers in your marketing.

Think about it:

  • Lawyers have stressful lives. According to Bar studies, they have a higher incidence of problems with drugs and alcohol. I don’t know if that means they are statistically more likely to get charged with DUI (et. al.), file for divorce, or break up with their partners, but if they do, they have the money to hire you and much more at stake if they don’t.
  • In tort matters, a lawyer’s loss-of-earning claim and disability claim tends to be bigger.
  • Lawyers buy real estate and invest and understand the need for legal advice and representation in matters outside their area of competence.
  • They have clients they can refer to you. And what a powerful referral it is when a lawyer can tell their clients that they have hired you themselves.
  • They know other lawyers they can introduce to you.
  • They are influential in their target markets and communities, which means they can open doors for you, endorse you, and otherwise help your practice grow.
  • Marketing is easier because when they need a lawyer, a lawyer usually prefers to hire someone like you who is not only a lawyer yourself but specializes in representing lawyers.
  • Marketing is more effective because you don’t have to network everywhere, write for everyone, or advertise to every type of prospective client, you can focus your efforts on attracting lawyers.
  • Marketing is also more effective because your marketing message can be tailored to your specific target market. Testimonials, endorsements, are reviews from other lawyers are more compelling.

If you handle “delicate” matters, e.g., criminal, bankruptcy, legal ethics violations, etc., lawyers probably don’t want the world to know they have hired you themselves. But that’s where having lawyers for clients is a decided advantage for you over having non-lawyers as clients.

Think about it. Your lawyer-clients have a built-in excuse for “knowing” you. You’re a colleague. They don’t have to tell anyone they hired you themselves, and they know you are constrained by law not to let that particular cat out of the bag.

How to choose your ideal client and target market


If I could save time in a bottle


If I could save time in a bottle. . . I’d sell it. I mean, who wouldn’t want to buy more time? More time with your family. More time for hobbies or worthy causes, more time get more work done.

How much would like to buy?

Unfortunately, I can’t sell you any time. But I can show you how to get it for yourself.

The first way to get more time is to steal it. Steal it from what you’re currently doing by taking on fewer tasks and projects or fewer cases and clients, and focusing on a smaller number of more valuable matters. Delegate less valuable work to others.

The second way to get more time is to get your work done more quickly. You can do that by improving your skills and knowledge, learning new skills and methods, using better tools, and developing better habits and workflows. Delegating work to others will also help.

The third way to get more time is to specialize in your practice areas and in the clients you target. This will allow you to charge higher fees and attract more clients (and better clients) who prefer attorneys who specialize.

The fourth way to steal time is through marketing, which will allow you to bring in bigger cases and clients, and allow you to hire more help.

Even better, instead of “one and done” marketing activities, do things that can bring in new business with little or no additional effort. Instead of only doing live presentations or seminars, for example, record them so they can go to work for you 24/7. Instead of networking to find clients, network to find more referral sources.

All of these will give you more time and more income. I know, because this is what I did to build my practice when I was struggling.

Work on fewer more valuable things, become more efficient, specialize, and get better at marketing. That’s how I was able to earn more and work less, and that’s how you can, too.

How I did it: the formula


Lawyers, what’s wrong with this picture?


A business owner’s truck was in front of me in traffic the other day. I knew it belonged to a business owner because there was a decal on the back window of the cab that advertised the owner’s business. Actually, it advertised the owner’s two businesses.


“[Owner’s last name] Professional Auto Detail & Landscape [phone number]”

Okay, what’s wrong with this picture?

If you’re looking for a landscaper for your yard, are you going to choose one that also does auto detail or will you keep looking and hire a specialist?


It’s okay to own more than one business. But you have to be careful about how you market them.

If you’re a lawyer and a licensed as a real estate broker, for example, stifle the urge to mention both in the same breath. Or ad. Or car decal.

In fact, consider not telling anyone you’re also a broker. You’ll scare away prospective clients who want to hire someone who is dedicated to practicing law and successful enough at it that they don’t have to do anything else. Mentioning you’re also a broker will also scare away prospective real estate broker referral sources who see you as a competitor.

You know where I’m going with this. If you have more than one practice area, be careful how you promote yourself.

Clients prefer to hire a lawyer who specializes. If they’re looking for a divorce lawyer, for example, the fact that you also handle criminal defense doesn’t help, it hurts. Clients think you might not be as good as a lawyer who only handles family law. (Some clients may stay away because, “ew, she has criminals in her waiting room. . .”)

Does that mean you should have separate websites, brochures, ads, presentations, and other marketing collateral for each practice area? Unless your practice areas are a natural fit, you should consider it. Personal injury, workers’ compensation, and med mal, go together. Small business transactional and litigation are fine. Estate planning and elder law work. Other mixes, perhaps not so much.

Think about it, okay? Especially when you order your next truck decal.

Make sure you don’t send out a mixed marketing message. This will help


Thinking is hard but it pays well


If you have multiple practice areas or offer a variety of different services, which one or ones do you promote?

Your best sellers? Your weakest? Your most profitable?

Do you lead with a low priced “entry level” service, seeking to create a new client, and then offer additional services through upsells and on the back end? Or do you lay out all of your wares up front and let the client choose?

If you advertise, which service(s) do you feature? Or do you offer information to build your list and talk about specific services only after they subscribe or inquire?

What do you highlight on your website? When you speak or write, what examples do you use? When someone asks you about your work, what do you say?

If you are a family law attorney, handling divorce and adoptions, but you’re not getting much adoption work, do you double your efforts and promote that or do you continue to advertise and promote divorce? Or do you do both?

Even if you have one practice area and offer one service such as plaintiff’s personal injury, you still need to decide where you will focus. Do you list a variety of different injuries, types of torts, or causes of action, or just one?

These are things you need to think about because they are fundamental to your “brand” and to how you conduct your marketing activities and spend your marketing dollars.

They are, of course, also an argument in favor of specializing. It’s a lot easier to make decisions about where to advertise or network or speak when you offer fewer services to a smaller segment of the market.

But I’m not going to bust your chops about that today. I’m just going to remind you to spend some time pondering these things and making some decisions.

You thought I was going to give you the answers? Sorry. No can do. It’s too complicated. There are too many variables. You have to answer these questions yourself.

All I can do is ask the questions and encourage you to explore your options.

I can also point out that the ultimate way to answer these questions is to test and measure your results.

Run ads for two different practice areas or services and see which one brings in the most inquiries or leads, which one converts to the most dollars on the front end, and which one results in more profits long term.

So you advertise your divorce services and your adoption services and see.

Testing allows you to make a decision based on hard evidence. That’s the “science” of marketing.

Of course marketing is also an art. Don’t ignore your instincts or your heart. If you think your market is ready to learn more about adoption, or you’re passionate about the subject, go for it. Even if the numbers don’t add up.

For help sorting things out, get this


Two lawyers walked into a bar. . .


Okay it’s not a bar, it’s a networking event, but a bar is funnier. Oh, and guess what? You’re one of the lawyers. I’m there too, but I’m not me, I’m the owner of a small chain of restaurants and I’m looking for a new lawyer (who does what you do).

We meet and I ask “What do you do?” You tell me you’re a small business lawyer (work with me here or my story won’t make sense) and you tell me a little bit about yourself. I’m impressed. I can see that you have a lot of experience and think you must be good at what you do. You’re a nice guy, too.

I meet another lawyer and have a similar conversation. Her name is Alice and she also represents small businesses. She also has an impressive background.

During my conversation with Alice, she asks me if I know Joe Martin. Joe is the president of our local restaurant owner’s association and I know him well. Alice has handed several legal matters for Joe personally and he’s just invited her to speak at our next monthly meeting.

Then Alice asks me if I know Karen Collins, co-owner of a popular restaurant in town. I don’t know Karen, but I’ve had several friends tell me about her restaurant and I tell Alice that I plan to go. Alice tells me I will love the food. “Tell Karen I said hello; she’ll take good care of you.”

Yes, Karen is Alice’s client. In fact, Alice represents quite a few restaurant owners.

Before the conversation ends, Alice asked me if I am familiar with a tax proposal the national chapter of our association is supporting. When I tell her I don’t much about it, she asks for my email address so she can send me an article she wrote about the bill for our association’s newsletter.

Can you see where this is going?

Yeah, sorry. Better luck next time.

It helps to know people in your prospect’s niche market. It helps to be able to say you represent many of their colleagues or neighbors. It’s even better when your prospect knows them and can ask them about you.

How does this happen? It happens when you target a niche market and build your reputation in that market by writing, speaking, and networking. It happens when you focus on that market, learn all about it, and meet the top people in it. It happens when you focus your time and resources on that market and eventually dominate it.

You can do that in business niches and consumer niches. You can do that by targeting prospective clients or people who can refer them (or both).

Gotta go. I’ve got a reservation for lunch at Karen’s restaurant. Alice sent me.

How to choose the right niche market: The Attorney Marketing Formula