Law firms invest a lot of money marketing their legal services in a variety of ways and among the most competitive is strategizing how to acquire leads for lawyers in the firm. Law firm leads are among the most expensive and most difficult to source but are crucial to the success of any law firm today. In 2018, the Legal Marketing Association released a report on law firm marketing that showed over 60% of law firms have begun to focus more on business development and marketing for their firms. About 3/4 of these firms affirmed that making marketing more of a priority in future investments.
Before we get into the current landscape of generating leads for law firms we should take a quick look at how far law firm marketing and advertising have come. If you haven’t been in the legal profession for fifty years you may not realize how strict advertising rules were prior to 1977.
Here’s a short story about how the rules for advertising were changed due to two young attorneys challenging the status quo. Van O’Steen and John Bates, who had both graduated in 1972 from the ASU College of Law, now renamed the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. They began their law practice with a legal clinic providing legal help to people of modest means that couldn’t get government legal assistance.
On February 19th of 1976, the ABA changed ethics rules for lawyers and law firms and endorsed limited advertising but only in telephone directories, remember the big Yellow Page ads? However, the ABA did not give permission to advertise elsewhere, such as in newspapers. This didn’t sit well with Bates and O’Steen who were concerned about the survivability of their fledgling law firm without the ability to advertise their low cost and low fees. These pioneers of law firm marketing placed an ad in the Arizona Republic on February 22, 1976, in order to test whether the ABA rules were Constitutional or not.
The president of the Arizona Bar at the time immediately filed a complaint against the two young attorneys stating that in his opinion, they had violated the ABA rules against advertising in newspapers or other media. It appeared to be a win for the Arizona Bar at first with the Arizona Supreme Court siding with them. This was shortlived because when the matter went before the U.S. Supreme Court in the case, Bates vs State Bar of Arizona. The Supreme Court overturned the lower court ruling citing that the First Amendment was being violated by the ABA advertising restrictions. Ruling that the allowance of legal advertising was in the best interest of consumers, this case eliminated most legal advertising restrictions and launched the future of marketing for law firms to come.
Fast forward to the 21st century and law firm marketing as we know it today. One would think that after Bates vs Arizona opened Pandora’s box for legal advertising and marketing all attorneys would have embraced it. This is evidently not the case, however, in the 2020 Tech Report from the ABA, less than 50% of firms of any size even have a marketing budget at all!
Less than a third of smaller law firms with less than 10 attorneys have a budget for marketing and only 1 of 7 lawyers with individual practices said they have marketing budgets. Contrast this with larger law firms with 10-50 attorneys stating that they do have marketing budgets. Overall, less than half of those surveyed had a marketing budget and only a quarter of those said it increased.
For law firms doing their own advertising and marketing, the following channels are the ones they use the most:
Others included Yellow Pages, direct mail, Twitter, Lawyers.com, Avvo, and Findlaw. Interestingly, the majority of attorneys, including midsize firms, do their own marketing. In my humble opinion, this is a mistake, I’ll explain later.
As an online marketer and SEO expert that has been involved in internet marketing since the mid-90s, I am amazed at the slow adaptation to online video marketing by attorneys. One would think that as much as you see attorneys doing their own TV commercials they would jump at the opportunity to duplicate those efforts online at a fraction of the cost.
Truth be told, according to the ABA survey mentioned above, less than 25% of those surveyed stated they used video marketing at their firms. Personally, I predict this will change and at Forward Lawyer Marketing, we have numerous clients utilizing video marketing. This is a great way to introduce yourself and your law firm to potential clients and acquire leads for potential clients.
Conversely to video marketing, the vast majority of solo firms as well as larger firms, do have a social media presence on one social media platform at a minimum. The most popular platforms reported were LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Martindale, and Avvo. Personally, I cannot see the value of using LinkedIn for most legal practices except for recruiting and hiring purposes. We recommend a variety of social media platforms to our law firm clients depending upon the demographics of their clients.
In general, we have found Facebook to offer the most coverage over a wide range of ages, genders, and interests. We use a combination of sharing blog posts and infographics along with paid Facebook ads to generate leads for law firms we work with. We have also had success with some of our clients doing Facebook Lives on current issues or Q&As.
Formerly known as Adwords, Google Ads are currently one of the most popular advertising methods for law firms. With Google Ads, we set spending limits to keep from going over set budgets. It is extremely important to point out that running Google Ads is an advanced form of lead generation and someone that is a novice can burn through an ad budget quickly with no success. The Google Ads platform operates by organizing bidding on specific keywords and keyword phrases which are expensive for most legal terms, some more than others. This is the most common way of advertising on Google, known as Pay Per Click or PPC. Here are some of the more expensive legal keywords:
|HOUSTON MARITIME ATTORNEY||$1,090.00|
|offshore accident lawyer||$815.00|
|best motorcycle accident lawyer||$770.00|
|18 wheeler accident lawyer san antonio||$670.00|
|scranton personal injury lawyer||$560.00|
|truck accident attorney dallas||$515.00|
|houston trucking accident attorney||$500.00|
|mesothelioma attorney assistance||$490.00|
|new york construction accident lawyer||$485.00|
|maritime lawyer new orleans||$485.00|
|california auto accident laywer||$475.00|
|auto accident attorney california||$465.00|
|auto accident attorney colorado springs||$460.00|
|car accident lawyer jacksonville||$430.00|
|truck accident lawyer dallas||$425.00|
Other ways Google Ads are used include participating in pay-per-lead acquisition programs in which you only pay for each lead as opposed to paying per click. Again, these leads can be expensive depending on the area of practice. As seen above, personal injury leads tend to be the most expensive.
One of the fastest-growing and most popular lead-generation methods for lawyers is pay-per-call. Unlike pay-per-click where you are paying for every click on an ad and pay-per-lead, with pay-per-call leads for lawyers you are only paying for potential clients that actually call you. Before getting into a contract for pay-per-call leads you want to evaluate your law firm’s intake process. If you don’t have a dedicated person answering the phone it could be a waste of money. We recommend a call service so that the calls are guaranteed to be answered by a person trained and knowledgeable about your law firm. They can take the calls, screen the potential clients and either set appointments or take messages for you to call back.
Attorneys go to school for years to become adept at practicing law, not marketing. While there may be a few exceptional attorneys that can perform effective marketing and advertising for their firms the vast majority would be far better off hiring experts. An experienced and reputable marketing agency that specializes in representing law firms is well worth the investment.
Forward Lawyer Marketing has a successful track record of delivering results for law firms of all sizes from solo practices to firms with multiple offices nationwide.
Click here to read about a family law firm that increased its caseload five-fold in a few months.
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We have teams experienced in all aspects of law firm marketing and advertising including:
At FORWARD Lawyer Marketing, our specialty is law firm marketing and SEO for lawyers, call us at (888) 590-9687 to discuss how we can increase the revenue of your law firm.