New business ensures that the law firm doors can remain open. It can ensure that salaries paid, obligations met and that the law firm can continue. Like it or not, marketing is an important part of most law firms — whether that be by word of mouth or some other kind of advertising.
In many areas of the law, competition for new business can be difficult. There can be lots of lawyers and law firms fishing in the same pond for a limited number of clients. This can, at times, cause hard feelings and animosity between lawyers. It can cause some lawyers to become ultra-competitive.
In an effort to get new business, some lawyers and law firms may think about comparing themselves to other lawyers and law firms in their advertisements, most often in a subtle and general way, to get new business. Whether it is intended or not, it can have the appearance, at times, as a lawyer taking swipes at other lawyers and law firms (that can really have the effect of demeaning the entire legal community).
Unfortunately, some lawyers may paint with a broad brush the general grievances they have with other lawyers and law firms. They might publish how they believe other law firms bill, advertise, handle cases or behave as a firm in general based on their perceptions (whether these perceptions are actually true or not or based on rumors or untrue assumptions).
Some lawyers might do this, or think about doing this, like they are figuratively running a political campaign where they are attacking a political opponent to obtain an election victory. Apart from the potential professional dilemmas that can come into the picture when attorneys compare themselves (and attorneys should really consult the rules in their state to ensure they are complying), this really is not an effective marketing strategy.
Most potential clients want to know what you and your law firm does well. They want to know that you care about them. They want to know that you will be an advocate for them. They want to know that you will protect their best interests and be communicative, competent and diligent.
But when lawyers resort to taking jabs at other lawyers (even if it is general and subtle), this kind of advertising is going to turn off a lot of potential clients. Most potential clients can see through it because it isn’t focused on them. Instead, it often has the appearance of focusing on a lawyer’s or law firm’s grievances with competing lawyer lawyers or law firms (which most clients have no interest).
It also can give the appearance that a lawyer or law firm is struggling for business (like a candidate who is down in the polls). Otherwise, why take this approach if the law firm is doing well?
It also does not serve the legal community well. At the end of the day, most lawyers went into the legal profession with noble motives. They might have gone in to help other others. They might have gone in to serve society.
Sure, lawyers and law firms have bills to pay. But most lawyers and law firms are working hard to serve their clients and the society as a whole. It is possible, after all, to pay back those law school student loans, while helping clients at the same time. It is also okay for different lawyers and law firms to approach their business and cases differently.
Instead of comparing yourself and your law firm to others, why not just focus on what you think you and your law firm does well (without making any mention of your competitors either directly or indirectly)? And why not show the potential clients out there that you can provide competent, communicative and diligent representation? If lawyers and law firms simply did this, most lawyers and law firms would have plenty of business.
If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.