Stop Being a Better Lawyer - It Will Get You Nowhere
Back in the olden days when I was an articled student and baby lawyer, I was told that the best way to develop a successful law practice was by doing uncompromisingly great work. Be better than the next lawyer and you were sure to succeed.
That might have been the case in the 1990s and before, but to succeed you have to do a heck of a lot more than great work.
Being better than other lawyers, that is more prepared, more researched, and more knowledgeable than other lawyers may get great results for your clients, but being better is not what it takes to succeed.
Okay, um fine, you want to do great work for your clients. At the same time, there are oodles of smart lawyers doing great work for their clients.
I have always tried to be more prepared than my opponent. I have tried to be more organized. I know I have worked harder.
However, just because you are somewhat better (or even a lot better) than another divorce lawyer, this does not mean a bunch of clients are going to come rushing to you beating a path to your door ready to hire you. Forget it. It is not going to happen.
Sure, a client who you did a great job for, where you did better than the other lawyer, may refer a friend or colleague to you one day, eventually. Great . . . but can you afford to wait until that happens? Nope, you can’t.
One of the best quotes I've ever heard is: "different is better than better" - Mike Michalowiz:
Different stands out in a sea of noise and information.
Different stands out in social media.
Different sparks curiosity.
Different makes people stop and notice.
Different has been talked about forever in marketing circles.
Most lawyers DO NOT GET that different is better.
Instead, most lawyers do exactly what I did when I first opened up my own practice. I did the same type of marketing as everyone else. I had marble signs, and columns in my yellow-pages ad (oh yeah, back then everyone advertised in the yellow pages too . . . you essentially had to out pay the next guy in order to get a good position amongst the hundreds of lawyer ads). I also joined the other lawyers who looked exactly the same as each other. Think everyone scales of justice, stuffy-looking law libraries, pillars of parliament, stuffy suits, city skylines. . .
Lawyers effectively become one of a sea of goldfish, one of a field of jersey cows, one of a field of daisies. You get the idea.
I have three thoughts for the kind of marketing that every other lawyer does. It is:
Don’t waste your resources, whether that be your time, effort, or money, or all three. Don’t waste resources by BEING the same as everyone else.
I LOVE different.
By the way, communicating your niche is about communicating your brand. Your brand is about a TON more than your logo, your fonts, and your colors. It is about who you are and how you show up, how people will notice you, how people are treated when they are in contact with your office, your approach to legal matters, and the way that you engage with your clients.
Here are some lawyers daring to be different:
There is one lawyer I know of who is a practicing witch. She makes no bones about the fact that she is a witch. Now, to be clear, she does not have the word “Witch” written on her business card, however, there are enough hints around her brand. She has a witch hat on her letterhead and a broom as a bumper sticker on her car. This particular lawyer’s rat people will recognize those symbols and be attracted to her.
I have one very cool coaching client who happens to speak Mandarin. Up until recently, there was nowhere in her advertising that stated this very important fact. The fact that she speaks Mandarin is now clear on her website and business card, and other parts of her brand.
When you walk into my law office, it feels nothing like a “law office” -- I would describe the vibe as almost spa-like in terms of the colors, and photos of nature. We play jazz music. Some people describe it as “holy” and calming. Over and over clients say to me that they were first intimidated about coming to see a lawyer about their divorce. They say they were pleasantly surprised to discover that our law office looks nothing like a law office. They say they feel welcomed. Our website does not have stuffy images, but instead, there are members of our team, goofing around and having fun. It is because our brand is about being approachable and friendly.
I know of another lawyer who wore a cowboy hat, cowboy boots, and tails to each and every court appearance. He stood out like you would not believe. People never forgot him, ever. He did not blend in. He also took on very unpopular cases. People either loved him or hated him. There was no way in between. The point is, everyone noticed him.
I know of another lawyer (you know who you are!) who is into astrology and reading Tarot and has been on a spiritual (not religious) journey. At this point, this lawyer is not exactly sure how much of this she wants to put front and centre in her marketing. I am hoping she dares enough to be different.
I know of another lawyer who only works for Men and another just for Dads . . .
What makes you different from other divorce lawyers?
What makes you stand out?
Being different is going to attract clients to you, not just being better than the next person at your job.
And when I say different, I mean different in the way that makes you unique but still authentic to you!
What is authentically you that is DIFFERENT?
How do you BE different?
In this Episode: