May 2014 Dicta
by Jodi McShan

The DAYL Solo and Small Firm Committee hosted the second in its “How to” series, helping young lawyers start and manage their solo/small firm. John DeGroote (John DeGroote Services, LLC), Benson Varghese (Plan A&B Advisors), and Ben Randolph (Agency Entourage) spoke about what they learned in terms of networking and starting out. They all agree that it starts out on a personal level.

When you start to market yourself, you need to have a plan and take time to examine your plan, changing it as needed. Your first zone of influence should be with the people you already know – people who may need your services, people who have friends who may need your services, and people who can help publicize you. You need to make a list of people you know and start reaching out to let them know what you are doing and ask for their support and/or advice.

Second, you have to have a web presence. In this day and age, the practice of law is no longer solely a word of mouth profession. People hear about you, and they will want to look you up, or they may even just google your area and see who pops up. Regularly update your content and maintain a professional looking website. You need to keep in mind what you would want to see if you were the consumer. Remember, that you must submit your home page to the State Bar for approval. When you have your website, be sure to send email using an email address with your domain name. This is inexpensive and makes a big impression on your clients.

Use your web presence to leverage your other networking – your community involvement, your achievements, etc. This is a place where you can put forth facts about you in order to show your competence and abilities. Always keep the ethical rules in mind when you are advertising and review them to ensure you are in compliance. Furthermore, when you are on the web, remember that nothing is ever anonymous. Your personal facebook page, twitter, and other networking sites not only reflect you personally, but they also reflect who you are professionally. Be mindful when you are posting content online in any capacity.

Finally, the common misconception that many young lawyers have is that they do not have enough to have a marketing budget. A marketing budget can range in size from $10 (for your domain) to thousands of dollars. Work within your budget, but realize that you have to have one and you have to devote time to marketing. Even when you are busy, remember to market because when you stop marketing, you lose future business. Always plan ahead and look towards tomorrow when it comes to marketing.
Constantly evaluate your marketing strategy and adjust for what strategies work best for you. Each person and firm is different, so keep an open mind when you construct your marketing plan. And remember, marketing can help you build your name recognition and get clients in the door, but it takes being a good lawyer to keep clients and build the reputation we all want.