If you are different, you won’t be liked

If you are different, you won't be liked in the legal industryThe legal industry is a pretty conservative industry. Most lawyers and law firms run their law firms in a very similar manner. It is what other lawyers, law firms and courts often expect.

Some in the legal industry expect that lawyers will not advertise much at all. The viewpoint of some is that advertising is not something lawyers should do. Instead, law firms and lawyers should slowly build their practice over time. Some in the legal industry also believe that lawyers should obtain most of their business through word of mouth referrals.

When lawyers advertise, some believe that the advertising should be very conventional and conservative. In other words, the advertising should be comprised of a lawyer doing very mundane advertising where they simply advertise the areas in which they practice with the addition of a stock or portrait photo of the lawyers. If a lawyer decides to break out and do something different (like radio, television, videos, social media, blogging or pay-per-click advertising), some will not like it.

Many in the legal industry also practice in various areas of the law. Whether the law firm has various departments that focus on specific areas of the law, or somebody is a sole practitioner who does a little bit of everything, these lawyers and law firms offer broad-based services to clients in various practice areas. Law firms and lawyers who really niche their practice in a specific area of the law are different. If you opt to do this, some will not like it.

Most in the legal industry also expect that law firms and lawyers all should stay within their own space or locality. If a law firm seeks to grow into other markets localities, that is often seeing as a law firm or lawyer fishing in the pond of other lawyers. If you do that, you might be very successful.  However, some in the legal industry will not like it.

Many in the legal industry do not run their law firm like a business. Instead, many law firms and lawyers run their firm totally outside the bounds of normal business practices. They might result in their law firm struggling financially or in terms of client satisfaction. The view of many that running a law firm like a business is not something that lawyers should do.

If you hire associate lawyers and allow them to practice, many will also not like that. Many lawyers (especially solo practitioners) are used to taking all the cases themselves where they run from division to division on various cases each and every day on the week.  If you hire associates to grow your practice, and so your clients get better service, some will not like it.

Many lawyers also do not prepare their cases thoroughly for court. Instead, they might opt to take many cases where they do minimal preparation for court dates and trials. Justified by keeping the cost “cheap” for the clients, they forget that they also have a duty to be competent, communicative and diligent. If you focus on those three duties, some lawyers will not like it because they think you should practice their way you focus on being a “cheap” or an “affordable” lawyer, not somebody who is thorough and prepared.

The reality is the legal industry is not a creative industry as a whole. Being creative, and being different, is not something that is necessarily encouraged or liked. The problem with this approach, however, is that being creative and being different results in having a growing and thriving law firm.

Doing things different from other law firms is what makes law firms and lawyers stand out in the community.  It’s what results in a law firm or lawyer having many clients. It results in the lawyer getting notoriety. It results in the lawyer making a name for themselves. It results in the lawyer paying off their student loans, helping lots of clients and having a nice life.

While a lawyer might accomplish having a successful practice that has lots of clients and lots of brand appeal to the community, the trade-off is some in the legal community will not like the lawyer or the law firm.

The choice for may lawyers and law firms is whether they conform to what some in the legal community wants and expects them to be to be liked?  Or, does the law firm or lawyer strive to be different to have a successful practice?

It might seem melodramatic painting the choice in such stark terms. But the truth of the matter is that this is the choice many law firms and attorneys face.

If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.

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