Lawyer Advertising, Small Law Firms, Social Media

The Practice: When Nothing’s Working

There’s no lack of advice these days about what lawyers should be doing to get clients or run their practices. And you take it. You take the advice of the former lawyers with no clients or practices, or the perennial failures who understand that lawyers are gullible when it comes to advice about making money. But still, you take it, or God forbid, pay for it.

So you create a Facebook Fan Page for your law firm and ask everyone to “like” your page. You go on LinkedIn and join groups. You go on and ask lawyers to endorse you. Your website is “awesome” and you’ve got an e-mail newsletter campaign going. Offline, you do the Bar association networking circuit. You’ve met some people for lunch, and you even had an article published. By the way, you’re also a good lawyer and have some happy clients.

But the phone isn’t ringing, or isn’t ringing enough. You get to the point of frustration, and start thinking of discontinuing part of your marketing, or worse, closing your practice.

Let’s be honest, some of you won’t make it. You’re decent lawyers but have no business sense. Some lawyers need to work for someone else. That’s why we have Biglaw, so really smart people with no ability to make a buck on their own can pretend they are superior.

Let’s say though that quitting is not an option, but neither is continuing on this path. You’re just trying to figure out which of the half-dozen things you’re doing is worth continuing, and what else you need to do.

So I’ll take a stab at it. My apologies for being a lawyer with clients and a practice, as I know I’m not the typical guru selling you on the dream….

The first thing you need to do is look at what you’re spending every month on marketing. This includes that idiot SEO guy, lunches, drinks at happy hours, everything that is related to you trying to connect with others, online or offline.

Now I’m not going to tell you that you should spend a certain percentage of your income on marketing. Let the gurus try and sell you on that silly number. I have no idea what that number should be, but I do know that your money should be intelligently spent.

I would then look at your last 10 cases. Who sent them to you? Avvo? Facebook? Lawyer referrals? Your friends at Rotary? If you’re getting cases, something is working. If the number of cases received, either directly or through an introduction due to the marketing strategy, is two out of 10 or more, I would consider an increased investment in that strategy. That’s right, I’m telling you if your time or financial investment in social media is working for you, increase the investment.

You also need to determine how long you’ve been doing each form of online and offline marketing. I believe everything deserves a year before pulling the plug. So let’s say you’ve been begging the world to like your Facebook page and although you’re scared to tell me, it’s done nothing for you over 12 months. Leave it there, don’t abandon it, but let’s get out the tissues and wipe the tears of reality that it’s just not the future of your practice. Don’t spend any more time on it.

But let’s say the Bar association happy hours you’ve been going to have garnered you a few referrals. Try and sponsor one. Try and create some type of dinner group where you take people from the monthly happy hour to a nearby restaurant afterwards. Invest in that event and the people that attend.

While you may think nothing is working, when you evaluate your past cases, you will discover the source of your business. It may vary — it usually does, but when it appears to you that nothing is working, back away from the marketing strategies that have given you zero, and double up on those that have had some return. Sounds basic, but there’s a difference between continuing successful marketing strategies and increasing your investment in those that work for you.

The other thing to do is consider marketing strategies you’ve avoided. This goes back to the idiot marketing gurus who “know” how to get you business. If you’ve gone all in on networking and it’s not working, consider doing some online marketing, and vice versa. There is no one thing that works for every lawyer or every practice area. You may be frustrated that your Google Ad-Words isn’t bringing in the millions, but instead of kicking yourself for buying in to the dream, go join an organization or sponsor a charity event.

Or try to go work for someone or do something else. I certainly don’t profess to have all the answers, that’s for the idiots from whom you actually take advice.

Brian Tannebaum will never “get on board” at the advice of failed lawyers who were never a part of the past but claim to know “the future of law.” He represents clients, every day, in criminal and lawyer discipline cases without the assistance of an Apple device, and usually gets to work (in an office, not a coffee shop) by 9 a.m. No client has ever asked if he’s on Twitter. He can be reached at

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