What Works for Solo and Small Firms

This Friday I am presenting on Marketing for the Solo and Small Firm along with Lorne MacLean of the MacLean Family Law Group at the CLE BC’s Solo and Small Firm Conference 2007.

Lorne and I have been chatting with each other over the past few weeks about what really works for building profitable and interesting practices at solo and small firms. Here are ten pointers for you to consider when planning your solo or small firm marketing initiatives for 2007:

1.  Alignment.  Take the time to determine what kind of firm and practice you want to build and make sure your decisions align with those goals.  Develop a clear message that describes what you would like your potential clients to know about yourself and your firm, and that will distinguish you from other lawyers.  Focus your marketing efforts on delivering that message. 

2.  Plan.  Take the time to plan your marketing.  Decide what you want to achieve in a given period of time and develop a simple plan of what you are going to do to get there.

3.  Clients.  The number one source of new work is from your current clients.  Would they be open to sending you more work?  Will they refer their contacts to you?  Investing in your current clients is the vital first step of any marketing plan.

4.  Network. The vast majority of work comes in through word of mouth referral.  After your clients, your personal network of contacts is your biggest marketing asset.  Have you got a system in place for keeping track of the names, addresses, phone and email for your contacts?  Have you established a system for staying in touch with your most important contacts?  How are you currently investing in building this network?

5.  Research.  Each time a new client joins your firm track how they heard about you.  Talk to your clients.  Find out what publications they read.  Do they prefer email or printed newsletters?  Do they look at legal blogs?  Do they even know what a blog is?  Do they use your website for anything?  What would make your delivery of legal services easier for them?  The more information you can uncover about your clients preferences the better you can tailor your marketing efforts.

6.  Technology.  Web sites, blogs, email provide the best return on investment for small firms.  They are cheaper then print materials, can reach large numbers of people, and are easy to keep fresh and up-to-date.

7.  CMS.  Make sure you have a website that you or your secretary can update yourselves.  This means you have something called a content management system (CMS) plugged to the back-end.  These don’t have to be expensive.  Adobe sells a program called Contribute for US$149 that a programmer can plug into your site and will allow you or your staff to update content with only a little training.  It’s so easy I taught myself how to use it.

8.  Yellow pages.  Don’t invest in yellow page ads.  There are better and more targeted ways to get your message out to potential clients. 

9.  PR.  Use the free announcements available in the Vancouver Sun, Business in Vancouver, Lawyers Weekly, to announce new lawyers at your firm, new partner announcements, and other related developments.  Determine which newspapers, industry publications that might be interested in quoting you for time to time or printing your articles.  Contact the editors and find out how they like to be approached with story ideas and articles. 

10.  Recycle.  Time is precious.  Get as much mileage as possible out of each marketing activity you invest in.  If you write an article for a publication then post it to your website.  Look for an opportunity to present on the content to your clients or potential clients.  Use the same material in as many ways as possible.

About the author

Allison Wolf

I am the founder of AWAL and one of the most senior coaches for lawyers in North America. I have helped countless clients over the past fifteen years, develop thriving legal practices and before that served as director of marketing for award-winning law firms. My specialty is uncovering the thinking traps and gaps holding clients back and helping them acquire the mindsets, skills, and habits for growing successful and rewarding legal careers. After a career in legal marketing and business development with law firms in Beijing, New York, and Vancouver, I was trained as a coach in 2004 at Royal Roads University and now coach clients from across North America. You can reach me at or learn more about my coaching practice from the coaching section of the Attorney With A Life Website.