Each state currently has different statutory and professional rules of conduct regarding advertising restrictions applied to attorneys and firms. Legal marketing professionals should know these restrictions to be sure their firm does not violate any laws or their professional responsibilities when advertising.
The Right Stuff
The larger the firm, the more likely it is that its primary legal marketing professional will have a college degree. However, a college degree is not required for many available positions in this field, either as an assistant at a larger firm or as a director or manager in a smaller firm. What is important is that legal marketing professionals have general knowledge regarding law firm operation and maintenance and enthusiasm for legal marketing. Legal marketing professionals should have the ability to generate marketing ideas that anticipate and address a law firm s needs in a cost-effective manner.
As a legal marketing professional, you should have confidence and attention to detail. Long-term vision and perseverance are critical to the recommendation and evaluation of marketing efforts. You should be independent, self-motivated, capable of multiple tasks at a time, and a decision maker. Computer skills in a variety of word processing, graphics design, and spread sheet software are a necessity.
You should possess impeccable written communication skills and the ability to transform complicated legal lingo into layman s terms. Written communications should be clear, precise, and honest. You should have the judgment and intuition to make definitive decisions on the spot when needed. Your verbal communication skills should be excellent in order to deal with clients and the press, especially if confronted. You should be a good listener and able to communicate one on one and in front of large groups. Effective legal marketing professionals inspire trust, confidence, and motivation in attorneys who have a variety of personality types, communication styles, and practice and development goals. They easily manage and face stress.
What Legal Marketing Professionals Do
What the Job Is Really Like
- Legal marketing professionals manage and direct all public relations of a law firm. Public relations include more than just advertising and promotions. It also includes recommending community involvement and charitable contributions and sponsorships of firm's members and employees, as well as identification of professional development opportunities for attorneys and personnel and ensuring proper client relations and services.
- Legal marketing professionals' public relations endeavors are directed at improving, maintaining, or developing a firm's image. They maintain a firm's image through their conduct with the press, clients, staff, and vendors, and assist other staff members with manifestation of the proper firm image as well.
- Legal marketing professionals manage databases for current, former, and potential clients to receive newsletters, announcements, client surveys, and other promotional activities.
- Legal marketing professionals develop and evaluate client surveys to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their firms, client satisfaction, concerns, and expectations. They also track referral sources of new business and maintain positive relations with these sources.
- Through selection of and contact with graphics designers and desktop publishers, printers, web designers, mail houses, and advertisers, legal marketing professionals coordinate and implement promotional materials. These coordination efforts will require legal marketing professionals to schedule meetings; solicit and evaluate bids for projects; draft, review, and revise ads and tear sheets or other materials; monitor responses and status; report to senior partners; and process invoice payments.
- Legal marketing professionals maintain the firm's biography and investigate and recommend opportunities for employees to improve their credentials. Maintenance of the firm biography will entail arranging for current photographs of firm members, along with each professional's biographical data, including experience, and capabilities; community and professional accomplishments and memberships, and current clients.
- The identification and organization of speaking engagements, seminars, conferences, and continuing legal education classes help attorneys market their services in their areas of specialty. Legal marketing professionals prepare visual and handout materials for these events. They must remain knowledgeable about the activities of attorneys and staff in order to identify and recommend appropriate engagements, as well as publication efforts by attorneys.
- Legal marketing professionals may develop and maintain a firm's Internet presence through web sites or on-line directories. They also compile news reports and prepare press releases on a monthly, annual, or as-needed basis.
Legal marketing professionals' jobs vary greatly depending on the amount of responsibility they have. The greater the amount of responsibility, the more a legal marketing professional will be able to develop and strategize marketing plans, instead of simply managing and implementing them. Because most employment opportunities available without a college degree will involve reporting to a managing partner, marketing partner, committee, administrator, or executive director, entry-level responsibilities will likely consist of managing and implementing marketing strategies already in place.
Getting In and Moving Up
Many enter this field after experience in marketing and advertising in corporate environments or after the acquisition of experience in other legal careers. Many occupations in the legal profession have job responsibilities that may provide you with experience. For example, if you work as a legal secretary, you may be responsible for maintaining a database of potential clients to whom you will mail a newsletter or holiday card. Many responsibilities that a legal marketing professional will have may also match the responsibilities of a legal administrator. You should carefully scrutinize the job responsibilities associated with a particular law firm position to determine where responsibilities may overlap with those typically associated with other careers in law.
In order to gain a position as a legal marketer you may have to work your way up through a variety of other legal positions. You should look for employment opportunities that will allow you to assume some menial, if not mundane, tasks associated with legal marketing, such as database entry and maintenance. Then you should improve your skills by taking relevant courses at a local school and work steadily toward getting an education while making the acquisition of experience your top priority. Even if you were to receive a college degree before entering this field, you would likely still have to start at an entry-level position. That is why it is so important to acquire full-time experience while getting your education part time in marketing or journalism.
If you already have law office experience, analyze your prior job responsibilities to determine what, if any, aspects of legal marketing you may have already participated in. Try to locate or create employment opportunities that will provide you with more experience in this field. You may even seek employment outside of the legal sector in a marketing or advertising firm in order to acquire some skills. The acquisition of a marketing or journalism degree can help open doors for you if you do not have the experience. If you do have experience and you receive a degree, you may be eligible for a higher rate of pay.
As more and more of the public pursues higher education, more and more of those individuals are opting for law school. Every year the number of students entering and graduating from law school increases, which increases competition between attorneys and law firms and, therefore increases the need for legal marketing professionals. Also, law firms typically do not operate like corporations, which utilize marketers and sales techniques. In the future, more law firms will implement strategies used by corporations that will include full-time legal marketing professionals to address client needs and concerns.
Legal marketing professionals may be known by many different occupational titles with varying degrees of responsibility. Some of these other occupational titles use manager, coordinator, specialist, and director interchangeably with jobs in the following areas: marketing, client services, practice group, public relations, client development, client relations, communications, and business development.
There is a feeling among many attorneys that legal advertising is unprofessional. As a legal marketing professional, you will have to cater your recommendations and activities toward your firm’s beliefs. In the future, this attitude is likely to relax, thus increasing opportunities for legal marketing professionals.
At the same time prepaid legal services are growing in popularity among the general public. This involves a client's payment of a legal insurance premium to an insurer. In exchange, the insurer contracts with attorneys to provide a variety of services at a specified rate to their customers. The attorney then receives referrals from the insurance company at the agreed-upon rate.
As these programs become more popular and more attorneys participate in them, marketing efforts may be subverted by this phenomenon or redirected at legal insurance plans. However, there will always be potential clients who do not belong to a legal insurance plan, just as many people do not have medical insurance. It is unlikely that this emerging trend will decrease the need for legal marketing professionals.
A Few Key Points to Remember
- There are many different levels of responsibility accorded to legal marketing professionals. Your rate of pay will vary greatly depending upon your level of responsibility.
- An education in journalism or marketing will increase opportunities for you as a legal marketing professional.
- You should have a professional image that mirrors the firm's image.
- You should be confident and poised with excellent communication skills in order to effectively deal with other attorneys and clients.
- A legal marketing professional should understand what a firm's image and ethics are.
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