in Business

The Clients You Want

Yesterday, at Lawyerist, Josh discussed the potential problems that call tracking numbers can have for local search visibility. Which prompted this reply from static:

Josh, have you given any serious thought to why you want to be higher on Google than another lawyer? While the idea of getting low-rent, volume clients might seem attractive at the beginning, desperation stage of a new practice, it isn’t necessarily the foundation of a good law practice.

I recall one old timer who was told by a marketer than he had completely blown his presence on local listings, to which the old timer replied he would rather put his needle through his eye than get the type of calls/clients one gets from being on local listing sites. Once you become known as high volume, low price lawyers, it can bery hard to change your reputation.

Followed by this reply from Rick:

I tend to disagree, a bit. (Not with the article, but subsequent comments). Leo references using the old way, which I presume to be the standard of letting your rep outweigh your advertising. I have updated/claimed my profile all over, and would love to be p.1 on Google (I am on some searches). Yes, some calls are tedious, and I agree that I am more surprised when the client shows up, admittedly, but as a younger lawyer it helps to have your name out there. And it’s the best way outside of reputation (which takes time) to get going. More calls do not mean bargain lawyer. I just ensure that me and my staff is up front on fees, and if a client wants advice I ensure they can afford what is imminent. Yes, it’s more calls, and probably a little free advice via phone, but it has helped me refer cases (to lawyers who may not charge as much, or other areas of law, etc) and becomes more common.
I’m regard to the post, one way around this is to have a hard line and supplement with Google Voice. I have a landline in my office, but use GV as my “office cell” for clients. It helps my clients to be able to contact me, and gives me the opportunity to turn it off if I want personal time. Just a thought.

So who’s right? Both are, in some respects.

Static is right in that lawyers should be selective in the clients they take on. And that the web is likely to generate many inquiries, many of which won’t be the kind of clients that you want. Rick is right that, for younger lawyers, advertising can be a more effective short-term way to make the phone ring.

I would suspect that most lawyers would prefer the static approach to building one’s reputation. Without support staff, taking intakes can be, as Rick suggests, tedious. On the other hand, developing a professional web presence does not necessarily equate to a high-volume, low-rent practice. You don’t have to take on every client that contacts you via internet or elsewhere.

Prefer the “do good work and clients will come approach?” Do it. No one is arguing that this shouldn’t be the cornerstone of your practice. But to entirely dismiss the internet as a source of low-rent potential clients is simply nonsense. I know plenty of lawyers that love it when their competitors spread the “no legal internet marketing” propaganda. Help their competitive advantage.

Of course, investing time and money in the internet for business development is isn’t right for everyone. But to summarily dismiss it? That’s just as much a mistake as blindly shelling out big dollars on internet marketing to “make it rain.”