It is 2021, and we’ve been following two law firms for five years now. We left 2016 on our first time travel trip, deciding to test our device with a short trip. Just five years into the future. And we chose two firms to follow, to see how they’ve done.
NewLaw LLC and OldLaw LLC were two firms of roughly the same size. Both were civil business firms, offering general business advice, transactional work, and litigation. Both had a mix of senior and junior lawyers. And both had about the same amount of business. They weren’t killing it, but were getting by, comfortably.
By 2021 the firms looked much different.
NewLaw had a steady stream of clients seeking them out, had added staff and were trying to decide whether to keep adding staff, or to start being more selective in clients, and increasing their fees.
OldLaw was different.
The firm was struggling. It had lost some very good clients. Clients the firm thought would be with them forever. But those clients seemed restless, increasingly impatient with the way work was delivered, and the fees. The stress in the office was palpable.
What changed for these firms? Why the different results?
One answer, perhaps the answer, was that NewLaw studied and thought about the changes technology and social media might bring to the practice of law. While it remained convinced that the essential ingredients of good lawyering would not change (that is, understanding the core issue, strong research, wisdom, judgment and the courage to make decisions), it became convinced that the vehicles for delivering those services (and letting existing and prospective clients see the value of those services) would indeed change.
So it developed a strong content marketing strategy, first thinking deeply about what kind of firm they were and wanted to be, then determining whether those services were needed. And finally, reaching out to their existing clients and prospective clients with valuable, relevant content that would be helpful to those clients. Without asking for anything. Over time, if and when those clients needed services, the firm was usually at the front of their minds.
OldLaw stuck to what had worked in the past, but it was no longer working for them, and when they realized it, they were already in a state of high stress, and grabbed the first shiny object that came along.
That took the form of something like this.
They became vaguely aware of technology and social media, and did a cut and paste job, and without a vision, started pushing out keyword-stuffed, irrelevant “content” through every channel they could think of.
And when the firm lawyers couldn’t keep up with their practices and write content, they turned their marketing over to self proclaimed SEO experts, who may have understood SEO, but did not understand who the firm’s clients were and what they might find useful.
I hope you’re NewLaw, but more likely, you’re either OldLaw or somewhere in between.
Every service provider should offer clear, compelling, relevant content, in whatever form of communication they are using (email, newsletters, articles, blogs, case studies, white papers, speeches).
Because it will make your readers notice you.
Because if they notice you, they’re more likely to listen to your message.
Because if they listen to your message, it may resonate and cause them to take the action you’d like them to take (open the attachment, view your website, product or service description, etc.).
Because if they open your attachment, view your website, product or service description, they may conclude that you can help them.
Because if they conclude that you can help them, they will hire you.
Many lawyers see technology and the World Wide Web as threatening, and I suppose there is an element of that. Certainly we are competing against more lawyers, and non-lawyers, for certain services, and instantaneous communications have pushed the timing continuum (within which clients want results) farther and farther down the line towards truly “instant.”
But it is also incredibly liberating. In many cases we can now work virtually anywhere, at any time, allowing us more control over our working hours, and the flexibility to spend more time with family, or to pursue other interests.
If we can adapt to, and indeed harness, the incredible power available, we can live truly better lives, deliver better value to our clients, and be happier people with more meaningful experiences.