This guide is a detailed description of Legal Marketing. We will take you through the current market landscape and changing client behaviours that propel the legal market, making visibility and identification an important factor for survival. We will then touch upon the various strategies and tools you can adopt for your legal organisation to get you started.
If you want to understand more about the world of Legal Marketing, check out our interviews with industry experts in this field! These interviews shall help you better understand Legal Marketing, not only as an important strategy but also as an allied profession.
- William McLaughlin (Business Development Manager, Zico Law & Managing Member, BD Roundtable) on his experience as a BD Manager in South East Asia for law firms and starting a community for legal BD and marketing professionals.
- Kaushik Prakash, Managing Director, Valeo Legal Marketing on legal marketing, its relevance, and where a law firm can start on its marketing journey.
- Nishant Bhaskar (Co-Founder and Chief Strategist, Altclik Digital) on the rise and relevance of Legal Marketing, Personal Branding, and LegalTech.
- Scott Simmons (BD Coach & Trainer for Lawyers; Director, Legal Balance Limited) on the importance of Business Development in Law, Billable Hours and becoming a BD Consultant.
- Luis Alves Dias (Co-founder Legaü & Ockham Legal) on working with BigLaw, LegalTech, founding Legaü & Ockham Legal, and everything startups.
Why is branding/ visibility important for lawyers?
In the present age of the internet, rampant digitisation, social media, and ever-rising opportunities on the web, the legal professional cannot exist in isolation. Traditional methods of referrals, opportunities, and network building have become redundant by the ease of business that the internet affords. The difference in market, industry, and client behaviours before and during the pandemic, cannot be ignored. Not only have the market and clients changed significantly, the adaptability quotient to remote work, online opportunity hunting, online business, etc, have also increased manifold.
Primarily, there are three reasons why visibility is important for lawyers:
Changes in Client Behaviours
According to a recent survey by Clio:
(i) 57% of consumers look for a lawyer on their own and many search online;
(ii) 37% of clients prefer to meet their lawyers via video-conferencing;
(iii) 46% of law firms now have a marketing budget;
(iv) 66% of solo attorneys do their own marketing;
(v) 97% of firms with more than 100 employees have a marketing team; and
(vi) 81% of law firms maintain a digital presence on at least one social media platform.
These statistics and pandemic market trends suggest that clients now have more options, they do not want to compromise on the quality of services and they are more willing to approach professionals that are cost-efficient and can deliver at a faster rate. With a variety of options available, client loyalty may only remain with organisations that are able to deliver ahead of time, and efficiently. Clients may not want to avail of the services of an organisation that is only physically accessible (in the same city/region) or recommended by an acquaintance (traditional referrals). On the other hand, loyal clients may also not want to continue with an organisation, unless they feel satisfied and secure.
To keep up with these changes in behaviours, legal marketing cannot be ignored. Employing marketing techniques carefully and strategically will not only help organisations secure their clients but also attract a larger client base from across geographies.
Even if your organisation is up-to-date with technology, operations, and management techniques, how do you scale up clients by increasing your leads (number of customers) and expanding business? Upscaling and expansion can be easily achieved by increasing the visibility and accessibility of your organisation, which can be achieved by increasing your digital footprint, social media presence, and marketing your services to a target audience.
Relevance of Brands
The purpose of building a brand is to instil a feeling of trust and reliability in both new and existing clients. A strong brand image can help organisations create brand awareness and position themselves in the market. In such a scenario, marketing what you represent, stand for, and do makes it easier for clients to distinguish between different available options.
But is Marketing allowed? If yes, to what extent?
Marketing your legal organisation is not fully permitted in India. Only a few details of an organisation can be shared. These include the name of the practitioner and their practice area, contact details, professional qualifications, and enrollment details of the bar.
The foundation of professional conduct, conditions of practice, and marketing is laid down in Section 36 of Bar Council of India Rules, which reads the following:
“An advocate shall not solicit work or advertise, either directly or indirectly, whether by circulars, advertisements, touts, personal communications, interviews not warranted by personal relations, furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments or producing his photographs to be published in connection with cases in which he has been engaged or concerned”.
This rule has been repeatedly challenged in a number of cases before the courts. In the landmark case of Bar Council of Maharashtra v M. V. Dabholkar (1976), the Supreme Court was of the view that “commercial competition and procurement could vulgarise the legal profession”. Subsequently, in the case of Dharam Vir Singh v Vinod Mahajan (1985), the Punjab & Haryana High Court was of the opinion that providing legal services is a business proposition and it comes under the purview of “commercial speech” protected by Article 19(1)(a). Similarly, taking this view forward, the Supreme Court in the case of Tata Yellow Pages v MTNL (1995), upheld the constitutional validity of commercial speech without declaring Rule 36 unconstitutional.
The Supreme Courtin the case of V.B. Joshi v. Union of India (2000) observed that advocates are permitted to provide details of their names, PQE (post-qualification experience), and areas of practice on their website in order to “publicise lawyers and reveal subtle elements of their practice.”
With these robust restrictions in place, it is important for lawyers to comprehend the contours of the restrictions and then build their visibility efforts. Here, it becomes important to create a strategy for legal marketing.
Strategic planning for legal marketing can start with a few preliminary steps of identification:
- Target audience
- Target jurisdiction (a different state/city)
- Target practice group (IP, Matrimonial Law, etc.)
- Scaling-up or scaling-down (evolving from a boutique firm to a full service firm or vice-versa)
- Cross-selling to existing clients
- Identifying the need for a team/professional for legal marketing
- Identifying tools and strategies for legal marketing
A planned strategy should be porous to innovation and fresh ideas. But, a preliminary identification of course-of-action may facilitate organised, methodical and synchronised progress.
Legal Marketing Tools and Strategy – Let’s start from a scratch
How to Engage with a New audience?
Personal Branding simply means increasing the visibility of your business and yourself, by marketing and advertising mechanisms that you employ by yourself. The fundamentals of personal branding are building perception, elevating credibility, increasing the circle of influence, and differentiating oneself from the pre-existing and emerging competition in the market. Some practitioners on Linkedin and other social media platforms have created a space of increased visibility for themselves, here are some profiles you can look at:
- Kaushik Prakash, MD, Valeo Legal Marketing
- Sanya Talwar, POSH Expert, Columnist
- Deepak Kumar Thakur, Partner, L&L Partners
- Priyank Ahuja, Product Manager, Accenture
- Jayant Bhatt, Advocate, Supreme Court of India
- Apar G., Advocate and Executive Director, Internet Freedom Foundation
Promoting your organisation or yourself through social media or a dedicated business website can help increase visibility to a large extent. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
- Create your own website and social media accounts (Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, etc).
- Make sure your digital presence is active, making a website and some social media accounts are not enough, your engagement with the audience has to be regular.
- List out your contact details, your areas of expertise, services offered, etc. on the website and social media pages.
- Identify people with similar interests and branding strategies, connect with them to increase your audience base.
- Reach out to the audience that you want to translate into your clients – spending time reaching out to people who may not require your services is a futile exercise.
- Increase video presence on the internet. A lot of organisations have started conducting webinars and interviews with experts to create content for their audience. If creating content is a tough job for you, frequent discussions on Clubhouse or starting your own podcast are great alternatives.
- Write on Linkedin, or create a blog section on your website. This tells your clients that you are up-to-date with recent legal developments and your knowledge is ever-evolving.
- Join groups and communities on social media. Engaging in these communities is a great way to increase visibility. You may also create your own community and pioneer in self-branding.
- Include chatbots on your website to increase user experience and create a channel of communication between you and the user. (It may be easier for a client to chat with a bot than to call your office, hence a simple chatbot can save you from losing prospective clients). Here are some chatbot builders for your website: Zoho, CM, Chatbot, HubSpot, etc.
- Frequently promoting your content and services on social media can also help in generating inbound leads.
- Another great way to increase engagement and build connections is to have guest posts on your website. Read this article for a better understanding.
- An FAQ section that highlights all basic information about your work, goals, details, contact information, etc, is always a good place to start for a new viewer. Click here for some good FAQ sections.
Demonstrating your expertise in a field through the expression of ideas and thoughts is a great way to create a personal brand. This can be done by maintaining a blog on your website or writing regularly on Linkedin/Facebook/Twitter/Instagram. Another way is to create infographics and short videos on youtube, or start a podcast! You may also want to organise webinars with other thought leaders in your area of expertise. Thought Leadership will help you establish credibility and qualify as a reliable source of information and influence in your area of expertise. Most importantly, it will increase your presence in the industry.
To read more about thought leadership, click here.
A landing page is built with a specific goal – to convert the audience into clients. These pages are very straightforward, they only contain contact details, a short description of services offered and a number of readily clickable links such as “book an appointment”, “call”, “get a free consultation”, “view success record”, etc.
To read more about Landing Pages click here.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can help you appear on top of search results. There are some basic techniques to make your website or social media page optimised:
- Use keywords (target long-tail keywords)
- Set up Google Business Listing
- Use plugins
- Add backlinks and off-page citations
- Create a mobile-friendly website
- Use trending topics for content to gain traction
To read more about SEO, click here to access 16 essential beginner’s guides.
Check out our interview with Kaushik Prakash, Managing Direction, Valeo Legal Marketing to know more about SEO and other marketing techniques.
Email/ Linkedin Newsletters
Another great way to build an audience is to issue a monthly or quarterly newsletter that can be sent by mail on through Linkedin. Here are some basic tips to start a newsletter:
- Identify what your audience cares about and wants to read.
- Add a section of successful projects and client feedback to increase credibility.
- Add resources of important news, industry developments, events, tools, and services that your audience may find useful.
- Link your recent content (videos/blogs/guides) in the newsletter.
- Add case studies, listicles, or FAQs.
Click here to learn more about newsletters for lawyers. Example: Lawyer Portal Newsletter.
Appearing in legal directories is a great way to increase visibility and land clients. Some directories charge a minimal account to be listed on their websites. These may contain your contact details, services offered, client reviews, and directory certification. (Most legal directories verify organisations or practitioners on the basis of client reviews and publish verified organisations on top.)
Some popular legal directories are:
- Chambers & Partners
- Legal 500
- IFLR 1000
- Who’s Who Legal
- Asian Legal Business (ALB)
- Indian Business Law Journal
Some popular international legal directories (with limited focus on APAC) are listed here:
To learn more about lawyer directories click here.
Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)
Pay-per-click advertisement is one of the most effective tools to market your product. PPC advertisements allow you to market your service on search engines and pay only when a user clicks on those advertisements. The relevance of an ad is determined by an automated auction of the search engine, hence no advertiser can ensure that their ad appears every time a relevant keyword is entered. Advertisers need to bid on the keyword they want their ads to appear on, and the moment a user clicks on their ad, a minimal charge is applied. Display ad campaigns, social media ad campaigns, and google ad campaigns are a good place to start.
PPC advertising can help you advertise your organisation readily.
An emerging and interesting strategy used by legal organisations is case studies of their clients. One such example is the IP Law Firm Chadha & Chadha, who advertised their success of business optimisation done with the help of AI-powered tools of MikeLegal. This can help increase credibility and act as a good online referral for future clients. It can also act as a reliable source of the efficiency of your services offered.
Click here to read MikeLegal Case Studies with Chadha & Chadha.
Reputation Marketing can help you understand what is being said about your organisation online, monitor it, and improve your overall online reputation. This is done by promoting a positive brand image online, through client reviews, comments, referrals, and content. Reputation Marketing and Management does not only help in a crisis situation (at a time of bad online image) but also helps in creating a positive image from the very beginning. Reputation Marketing can be done by:
- Improving reviews and ratings: Improving your reviews and ratings on websites and legal directories can help increase credibility, value, and range of influence.
- Optimising Search Results (SEO): SEO optimising simply means improving your website, and increasing the easy access of surfing your website to help increase visibility and consumer traffic.
- Localising SEO: SEO Localising means translating and improving the website by paying greater attention to cultural references to the locality and geography of your organisation.
- Focusing on website and content development: This includes SEO optimisation and improving the content of the website to suit the needs and likings of the viewer.
Click here to read more about reputation marketing and management.
Awards and Honours
Participating in legal awards and accolades is another efficient way to elevate your profile and add a third-party validation to your list of reviews for the clients to consider. These can be used to propel an enthusiastic work environment within the organisation and client leads outside the organisation. Some Indian legal awards are listed below:
- Legal Era Awards
- ALB India Law Awards
- Forbes India-Legal Power List
- BW LegalWorld
- Asia Law Profiles
- India Business Law Journal
- Benchmark Litigation
- ICCA Excellence Awards
- ACQ Global
- Insights Success
- The Merger Market M&A Awards
Legal Marketing Readings and references:
- The Lawyer Marketing Book, 60 Real-World Lessons Plus Product Reviews, Biggest Mistakes, and Must Do’s By Matt Starosciak
- The Legal Marketing Fastlane, by Jan Roos
- Law & Advertising, by Dean Keith Fueroghn
- Best Practices in Law Firm Business Development and Marketing
Events & Organisations
Associations and Linkedin and Facebook Groups
People to follow
- Sylwia Jenner, Legal Marketing & BD Strategist
- Adam Severson, Chief Marketing & Business Development Officer, Baker Donelson
- Alice Simmons, Marketing Communications Manager, Hudson Cook, LLP
- Alyson Fieldman, Chief Marketing Officer, Marcum LLP
- Amanda Loesch, Chief Marketing Officer, Porzio, Bromberg & Newman, P.C
- Amanda Sexton, Founder, FocusWorks Marketing
- Nishant Bhaskar, Chief Strategist, Altclik Digital
- Kaushik Prakash, Managing Director, Valeo Legal Marketing
- William McLaughlin (Business Development Manager, Zico Law & Managing Member, BD Roundtable)
- Nancy Myrland, Linkedin Coach, Media Consultant