I came to an epiphany shortly before graduating law school. I realized that, if I wanted to practice law, my choices would be between working for a bottom-of-the-barrel firm for $35k (in California? yeesh) or starting my own practice. In preparation for this leap, I read about a dozen books on how to run a small firm, from business to marketing to client management. One book gave a tip that I'm only now starting to understand: the around town walk.
Every day, at noon, this guy walks around his small town. He figures that it keeps his face in front of the people, it'll have the opposite effect of "out of sight, out of mind." He may have a point, but if one were to walk around a larger city, like San Francisco or Baltimore, he would be more likely to be accosted by homeless people than to run into potential clients.
The principle remains the same for big cities, however. You just have to find a community in which to shine.
What could be better than giving back while getting the marketing boost? A friend pointed me to this Florida firm, Perenich Caulfield, as an example. They have a booth at the local fairs, give summer safety talks at local schools, and volunteer at soup kitchens.
Community service may not create a direct benefit. After all, if the kids listen to you, and ride their bikes safely, they probably won’t end up in your office. That’s a good thing. But a constant presence in the community does ensure that if someone they know needs a lawyer, you’ll be the first name on their mind.
And if it never leads to a paying client, at least the kids walked away with a book and a ball. That counts for something.
Pursue Your Passions
Here is another great idea: gather your lawyer friends and win a Bar-B-Que contest. As a Kansas City native, I fully approve of this idea. So did the judges at the World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest in Houston, apparently. Kerry Fellows, who is a Texas Attorney, is the owner of the Across the Track Bar-B-Que team, which has entered the contest for twelve consecutive years. This year, they emerged victorious. Now, his name is in the local news and the Texas Bar Journal magazine.
It’s great publicity for doing something that you love and would be doing anyway.
In Sight, In Mind
Perhaps the true lesson wasn’t that we should roam the streets of our towns every day. After all, while that might work in a small town, you’ll hardly be notice amongst the crowds of the big city. The real idea is just to remain in sight, and for others to know that if they have a legal issue, you’re available to help.
That doesn’t mean be obnoxious, or wear an “I’m a Lawyer! Hire me!” t-shirt (though we’d be curious to see if that would work). It just means be yourself, stay involved locally, and of course, keep the business cards handy.