So you want to get your law firm's name out in the community, but you also want to help the community. Why can't you do both at the same time?
Like the Invisible Hand, you can do one while necessarily doing the other. Here are five ways you can help the community while providing a little plug for yourself:
1. Sponsor a Team.
Little league, soccer, whatever -- your firm can make a donation, either in money or in kind, to a local kids' sports team. If you choose the in-kind donation route, consider a donation of uniforms with your logo displayed on there somewhere (assuming your state's advertising rules permit it). But please stick with standard uniforms and don't try for something clever, like a screen-printed suit and tie.
2. Go to the County Fair.
A good way to become part of the community, and also to get your name out there, is to go to your local county fair or whatever big event the town has every year or season -- heck, it could be the annual Apple Festival. Pro Tip: Make it interactive! Consider a dunk tank in which members of the community have to "dunk the lawyer." No one likes lawyers, so that should be fun. Proceeds will go to charity. The fair is also where you can hand out some of the tchotchkes we talked about earlier.
There are a plethora of events available in any community for business people to volunteer for, whether it's a fundraising event for a disease (like a breast cancer awareness walk) or a community outreach event (like Habitat for Humanity). You get to be a part of something that actually helps people, plus you could have your firm's name on an event T-shirt.
4. Join a Local Board or Commission.
Concerned about the quality of policing? The quality of water? The quality of zoning? Your city or county has a panoply of civic boards that can be populated by regular citizens just like you! Your legal training will come in handy if any ordinances come through the board or commission. You'll also be able to claim, on your website and/or resume, that you improved the quality of life as a member of the police commission (of course, that's only if you actually improved the quality of life).
5. Be a Mentor -- and Not Just a Legal One.
You can help a local kid by becoming a mentor through a program like Big Brothers/Big Sisters. One-to-one mentoring programs allow you to spend time with an individual, teaching that individual skills and helping them find opportunities throughout the community. It's not as rewarding in terms of the wider community (or getting your name out), but it might turn out to be more fulfilling personally. The law can be an unforgiving profession, and it's easy to lose sight of what's important.