Lawyer marketing 101: The basics of networking


Experts tell us that 85 percent of success in the business and professional worlds is accomplished through personal contacts and word of mouth. The more people you know, then, the more chances you have of meeting people who can and will further your career.

One of the best ways to develop more personal contacts is by networking within organizations. Bar associations, community and charitable groups, and organizations in your target markets provide opportunities to meet prospective referral sources and clients, as well as others who can provide introductions, information, and advice.

Begin by selecting one or two candidate groups that contain people it would be helpful for you to know in the years ahead. Attend a meeting or two, introduce yourself, and decide if it would be useful for you to join. If you decide to join, attend every meeting and
begin the process of making yourself known.

One of the best ways to do that is to volunteer to work on an important committee within the organization. Choose one that has members on it that you would like to get to know or that is engaged in activities that will bring you into contact with key people both inside and outside the organization.

Your work on committees will require time and effort, but over the long term, the relationships you develop can provide everything you need to ensure a lifetime of success.

Today, networking online has become popular. I’ll address that in a future post.


Is this fee splitting or smart marketing?


Wouldn’t it be great to have hundreds of people referring clients to you on a commission basis?

"You can’t do that! That’s fee splitting. It’s illegal!"

Well. . . it depends.

It’s true that you can’t compensate non-attorneys for referring clients to you. But there’s nothing wrong with paying commissions to people who sell your book or tape set or other product–or service–as long as that product or service does not constitute "legal services".

The idea is simple. Let’s say you’re a divorce lawyer and you write a book (ebook, audio book) entitled, "Squash ’em: The complete guide to successful divorce". You offer your book for sale from your web site. The more books you sell, the higher your profits. But the purpose of the book isn’t just to make a retail profit. Think bigger.

People who buy a book on divorce, written by a divorce lawyer, are likely to be a prospective client for that lawyer’s services, don’t you think? Or someone who works with couples with marital problems, perhaps. When they read your book and see how you have helped other people in their situation, they’ll see how you can help them (or they people they can refer).

If these people do hire a lawyer, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll be the one who is hired, especially if your book offers a free consultation or otherwise invites them to take "the next step".

Okay, so your book does a good job of selling your services to those who read it and the more books you sell, the more clients you are likely to have.

Now, to sell more books, you could advertise, and you might want to do that. You can offer your book on and through a myriad of other outlets. But you can also set up an affiliate program and let other people advertise your book for you.

Why not let marriage counselors and people who run support groups, for example, sell your book to their clients? You pay for "advertising" (commissions) only when sales are made.

Technology makes it easy to automate the selling process and track affiliate commissions. All you do is find more affiliates and tell them about your book and the opportunity to market it. The affiliates sell the book, the book sells you, and hundreds of prospective clients find out about you and the services you offer, and pay you for the privilege!

Another strategy is to give away your ebook. Offer it as a download from your web site in return for the visitor’s contact information. You can also invite others to offer it from their web site, as a free resource to their readers, or, perhaps, as a premium for subscribing to their newsletter. The viral nature of ebooks could bring you an enormous amount of target traffic to your web site.

If your book is available online, you’re likely to get inquiries from prospective clients in jurisdictions where you do not practice. Now you’ll have the delightful problem of finding lawyers in the appropriate jurisdictions and developing reciprocal referral arrangements.

There are many other benefits to publishing a book and most lawyers are capable of writing one in about 90 days. If you don’t have the time, you could hire a ghost writer, work with a collaborator, or create something you do have time to do, i.e., a recording of one of your seminars.

One last thing (and I wish we lived in a world where I didn’t have to say this): check with your jurisdiction’s authority (bar association, law society, et. al.) regarding the ethics of this strategy. If they say you can’t do it, move. This is too good an idea to pass up.


Should lawyers offer a money back guarantee?


"Ridiculous!" "Unethical!" "Stupid!"

Or is it?

Marketing is about cutting through the clutter and standing out from the crowd. It’s about making a big promise and then backing it up. It’s about removing the risk from your client and absorbing it yourself. Isn’t that what contingency fees do?

Money back guarantees work. They are a powerful, proven marketing technique, and you should consider them.

Will you get stung? Maybe. Sometimes. What if that happens, say, once every twenty times you offer it but you get five times more business because of it? What if you lose some but you are so darn popular, you can charge twenty percent more than your competition?

What about ethics? Well, that’s something you have to verify with the powers that be in your jurisdiction, but don’t confuse a guarantee of fees with a guarantee of outcome. There was a discussion about this on Jamie Spencer’s blog about a week ago and there is a big difference. The key is not outcome, it’s client satisfaction. "Your money back if you’re not delighted."

Scary, isn’t it? That’s what makes it so powerful.

Marketing studies prove that most people won’t take advantage of you and, of course, there are ways to limit your exposure. C’mon, you’re a lawyer–that’s what you do. But I challenge you to err on the side of trusting your clients. Those same marketing studies prove that the longer and more expansive the money back guarantee, the more profitable the overall results.

If you’re all intrigued by this idea, but (a) you’re not sure if it will work, or (b) you’re afraid it might backfire, "test" it. Find a small market segment that you can reach with a limited marketing communication, a small mailing, a classified ad, offering it at the close of a free seminar, and see what happens. If you like the results, you can test the idea with larger segments.

Is this idea for everyone? No. But some lawyers will make a fortune with it. In fact. . . I guarantee it.


How I (finally) got organized


I‘m in love!

Well, okay, when you’re talking about a piece of software, that might be a bit strong. But, I can’t help it…

I really am IN LOVE!

The software I’m talking about is Info Select. It’s been around for twenty years and I can’t believe I just found out about it.

Info Select is an information management system that allows you to organize EVERYTHING: notes, contact info, ideas, emails, phone logs, client data, calendars, presentations, research…


I don’t use Outlook anymore. I use Word only occasionally. I’m getting rid of mounds of loose scraps, notes, reminders, post-its that have adorned my office for years. I can see my desk again!

I can now find anything I’m looking for by using Info Select’s robust search capability.

Here’s what one lawyer says about a previous version:

More info:

Here’s the company web site: They offer a thirty-day free trial. Careful, it’s addicting!

If you use Info Select, please share your experiences. If you haven’t, check it out!

David Ward
“Be a mentor with a servant’s heart!”