4 Tips for Becoming a Local Legal Expert
One way to grow your practice is to establish yourself as a legal expert within your community. If you become the person that local news stations and newspapers interview for the "legal perspective" on a hot topic, then their audience will likely begin to think of you as an expert as well.
And when that audience needs legal advice? You'll probably get a few phone calls.
Granted, becoming a local media guru is easier said than done. Luckily, FindLaw's Andrew Chow -- a former producer for both NBC's 'Today' and local morning news programs -- has some great insider tips.
- Get affiliated. Media outlets frequently turn to universities and professional associations for "experts" to interview. If you're an adjunct professor or an active member of a trade association, you're more likely to get your face in front of the camera.
- Connect with local reporters via Twitter. (Chow hedges that this tactic is more likely to work with print reporters than television reporters.) If you have something interesting to add to a recent piece, tweet your ideas to the reporter.
- Hang out where the media hangs out. If you're attending the "trial of the century" in your town just for kicks, sit near the reporters. Chat with them. Take notes. If they want a "legal angle," they might just ask you.
- Don't be afraid to pitch a story. Let's say you have a client who is suing your town for failure to comply with a federal law. With your client's permission, it's totally fine to let the local media know about the case. But don't just email a copy of the complaint and expect news coverage. Give a casual, one-to-two sentence pitch explaining how the issue in your case is outrageous or novel. (xoJane's Mandy Stadtmiller has a cheeky take on pitching to the press that's worth a read.) Send your idea to the assignment desk, or contact the "beat" reporter for that topic.
Of course, media can be a double-edged sword. Don't simply position yourself as an "expert" in an attempt to drum up clients. If you start babbling incoherently about bankruptcy on a morning news program when you know nothing about bankruptcy, you're going to do more harm than good, both for the viewers at home, and for your practice.
Are you a local legal expert for your local newspaper or TV station? Care to share your secrets? You can get good karma for posting your tips on our Facebook or Google+ pages.