Opening a new law firm is, admittedly, overwhelming. You have to find office space, establish a secure computer network, hire the right employees, buy office equipment, and accomplish a million other tasks.
If you want to make sure your new firm has plenty of business, we’d like to add one more bucket of tasks: how you will market your new firm. In this post, I look at several areas that every new firm should consider prior to launch.
Need help turning your legal marketing to-do list into reality? We can help with that! Muse Communications was named one of Dallas’ best legal public relations firms by the readers of Texas Lawyer (although we represent clients all over Texas). Just drop us a line.
Addressing First-Level Concerns
There are things that all new law firms should address in the months before they open. While this list does not include everything, it does highlight a few first-level concerns that can eat up your time and energy before your first day of business:
Firm Logo – Distinctive logos are a great way to brand your firm and quickly convey who you are. If several people at your firm need to approve such a logo, it is important to handle this step on the front end. Everything from colors, layout, etc., will need to be decided, so getting this step out of the way early will help you with what follows.
Website – While the television advertisements for “do-it-yourself” websites make it appear that a site can be completed over the weekend, the truth is that the thought, planning and execution takes considerably more time even if you are working with a top-flight designer. Your website is how new clients, and a lot of your current clients, go first for information about you and your firm. Starting your firm with a subpar site or no site at all is a recipe for disaster.
Letterhead – Even if your firm is paperless, you will need new letterhead in electronic format with the new firm name and contact information. While that may appear to be an easy task once you have an approved firm logo, do not underestimate the time it will take for a designer (and, if needed, a printer) to complete their work.
Online Directories – There are several places attorneys should check online to make sure they are identified correctly prior opening a new firm, so people know the right place to find them. In addition to your profile on the State Bar website, review and update the other places where your clients and future clients may find you, including SuperLawyers.com, Avvo.com, and anywhere else you may have an online presence.
Positioning Your New Law Firm
Standing out from the crowd is critical in today’s competitive legal market. That is especially true for new law firms. Sure, most lawyers will start with a stable of existing clients but, for most attorneys, landing new work will require more than relying on current relationships.
That is why it is so vital to take some time on the front end to determine exactly how you want your new firm to be regarded in the minds of existing and potential clients. For some, that means creating a firm mission statement, slogan and/or other written description that conveys who you are and the work you do.
This does not mean simply listing your practice areas but, rather, identifying the best way to describe your capabilities, experience and whatever else you want people to know.
If your firm only handles bankruptcy work, then make that clear in your mission statement, slogan, etc. If you only represent plaintiffs, making that obvious in your external communications will only save you wasted time taking calls from potential clients looking for defense counsel.
Once you have identified your firm’s “theme,” make it part of whatever you present to the world through your website, social media channels, and other communications. Telling people who you are and how you can help them is more important to securing business than even the most attractive firm letterhead.
Announcing Your New Law Firm
Two to three weeks before you open, start thinking about how you will let the world know where you are and what you are doing. There are many ways to get the word out and a blended approach typically produces the best results.
The list below identifies several options that do not have to happen all at once. In fact, we recommend spacing out your announcements as a way to prolong the buzz while sparing your contacts from too much simultaneous messaging.
Individual Clients – A lot of lawyers rightfully want to alert their most important clients to their new employment situation before the news becomes common knowledge. Contacting them individually prior to any other announcement will let them know they are top of mind.
Press Releases – A well-written press release is the easiest way to announce your new firm to the largest audience. Wire services such as PR Newswire will send your release to newsrooms in your state or nationally, in addition to posting the release online where it will show up in search engines indefinitely.
Social Media – As you’re creating your website, don’t forget to create a firm page on, at the very least, LinkedIn and Facebook (Twitter as well, if you’re so inclined). Your first posts should announce the opening of the firm and include branded graphics. Don’t forget to tag individual members of the firm on those posts and have your lawyers share them on their personal profiles. Doing that ensures that your firm page gets in front of potentially thousands of new eyes.
Email – Your email list is one of your most important business assets because it’s a direct line to people who already know you and, we assume, like you. Spend some time creating a list of your most prized contacts – clients, previous clients, other lawyers, and other professionals in your network – and send them an email announcing your new firm and providing your new contact information. Just as you would with a law firm newsletter, use a third-party email service provider (such as MailChimp or Campaign Monitor) to create a branded email that can give you analytics on who opened and clicked on your email.
Advertising – If your budget allows, an advertisement announcing your firm is another way to get in front of your important audiences. Depending on your client base, that may mean an interstate billboard; a digital or print ad in a publication read by your existing and potential clients; or the local bar newsletter where it will be seen by referral sources. The key is making sure your ad conveys the information you want in way that is likely to be noticed.
Starting a new law firm is both arduous and exciting. Planning your marketing should be among your first considerations if you want to keep your phone ringing.
Bruce Vincent is a writer and editor who has helped attorneys launch their new firms for more than two decades. Clients rely on Bruce for effective messaging on the front end that helps ensure positive notoriety down the road. Contact Bruce at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to best position and announce your new professional home.