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January 05, 2006

Rule Six: When You Work, You Are Marketing.

Rule Six: When You Work, You Are Marketing.

Rule Six is more a truth to be kept in mind than a "rule." This is where the needs of clients and their lawyers come together. It's about value to both. But you can't forget this one. Keeping or not keeping in mind the germ of Rule Six--that "when you work, you are marketing"--is the difference between having a financially healthy practice and having to close your doors.

Repeating Clients. We as lawyers are always marketing when we work. Clients and customers need and want their lawyers, CPAs, doctors, auto mechanics, store clerks and bank tellers to do good if not first-rate work. Professionals and other vendors of all manner rely on pleasing the customer in order to get more work. If you rely on or shoot for repeat business, good work--which includes the quality of communication and follow-up while you are doing it--drives whether you get more of that type of work or, even better, make inroads toward doing other types of work. (For example, my firm often starts work for a client in the corporate tax or environmental area--but we are always looking to expand our activity for that client to, say, employment practices, commercial litigation and/or international work.)

One-Night Stands. If, on the other hand, your practice is more along the line of "one-night stands"--i.e., divorce or criminal work where you generally serve the client once for a discrete time period--use your good work and service to obtain word-of-mouth referrals. See Malcolm Gladwell's 2000 best-seller The Tipping Point for inspiration on scores of good ideas on creating word-of-mouth dynamics. If you are not sure whether a satisfied client will refer work, just ask her or him to do that.

So we are always marketing--and in doing that constantly sending to clients barrages of small but powerful ads. The ads range from "don't hire us again" to "we want to keep your business--and get more of it". Pretty simple. But it's apparently not all that intuitive to many of us in the legal profession. I am amazed at how long it takes us to learn it. For my money, "Rule Six" is the best single thing you could ever tell a lawyer starting out. And, hey, it's good for both clients and their firms.

Posted by JD Hull at January 5, 2006 06:11 PM


Excellent point and thanks for putting our posts together and sharing.

Posted by: Leo Bottary at May 8, 2008 11:28 AM

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