I was a young associate in a big firm in the early 1980s, on the cusp of a new era in the legal profession. A handful of cases set the legal profession in a new direction. Among them, Bates v. Arizona, 433 US 350, 978 SCt 2691 (1977) announced that attorneys could advertise their services, and Supreme Court of New Hampshire v. Piper, 470 US 274, 105 SCt 1272 (1985) held that bar admission could not be limited to state residents. The race was on. Law firms opened branch offices in neighboring states (and not-so-neighboring states), mega-law firms were on the rise, and there was a drive to do this marketing thing.
Back in the old days, a more experienced lawyer would introduce his or her clients to a relatively new associate, and encourage that relationship so that the client would stay with the firm when the more experienced lawyer moved on to golf and martinis. Gentlemen wore hats to lunch, and took them off in the elevator when ladies entered. Opposing counsel would occasionally meet for lunch or drinks, agreeing that their clients’ disagreements should not interfere with their own socializing. The mid-eighties sea change started a mad scramble for clients, who were no longer beholden to the lawyers in the venue where their troubles lay. It was necessary to jump into the fray and snag those clients! Associates were besieged with “marketing videos” and turned out into the world. Some adapted naturally, others went with less aplomb.
And here we are today, confronted by another marketing shift: social media. Again, there is a group that embraces websites, tweets, Facebook pages, and blogging. Then there are the rest of us. We know that we should do this, but we don’t get paid to spend time blogging, and what would we say, anyway? Who needs this! Um, we all do.
Do this marketing thing – starting now.