Lawyers spend years honing their craft, wading through dense legal texts and laboring over important cases. But when it comes to marketing a law firm, many lawyers fall short. Not only is marketing not taught in law schools; but it’s often seen as unethical. After all, the law is about client advocacy and detailed legal analysis, not crafting catchy slogans and social media posts.

Jumping through hoops

The problem is that most people turn to the internet when looking for legal help, particularly for specialized practice areas and lawyers in their local community. In fact, a quick Google search will yield thousands of results. Therefore, without an effective marketing campaign, lawyers may struggle to stand out and attract inbound leads. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the reasons why attorneys hate marketing, including ethics questions about marketing for law firms. If you’re a lawyer who is interested in the ROI of marketing, but is concerned about getting an ambulance chaser reputation, keep reading.

Is the Competition Too Stiff?

Have you ever cruised down the highway, spotted a lawyer’s billboard, and wondered, “do billboards for attorneys work?“ If not, then what does? TV ads? Aren’t those just different ways to bait clients?

The good news is there are better marketing alternatives for lawyers. Whether it’s search engine optimization, an attractive law firm website, or social media, digital marketing is a highly effective, ethical way to cut through law firm marketing competition and reach new clients.

But if marketing for lawyers still makes you uncomfortable, there may be some key reasons for this:

  1. Ethical Issues. There was a time when sales and advertising did violate professional guidelines, and lured potential clients with exaggerated promises. But today’s marketing is very different. Agencies understand that law firm marketing is about connecting with the right audience to help them make informed and better decisions. In essence, helping them, not harming.
  2. Privacy Rights of Clients. In today’s digital age, clients are wary of sharing any personal information online. Unfortunately, law firms handle sensitive information daily, and maintaining that confidentiality is crucial. Unlike other businesses that can freely share customer testimonials or case studies, law firms have to tread carefully. A reputable marketing agency will maintain data privacy transparency, accountability, encryption, and enact safe data collection and retention policies. 
  3. Marketing Doesn’t Work. Some attorneys hold the belief that marketing either doesn’t work or just isn’t worth the financial investment. They might have heard stories of law firms blowing their budgets on unsuccessful campaigns or had a bad experience themselves. But word of mouth referrals aren’t enough – you have to continually attract new clients in an oversaturated legal market. You can only do this with a professional, informative website, a social media presence, positive online reviews, and more. 
  4. Marketing is Costly. One of the primary reasons attorneys may dislike marketing is the cost of competing with other firms. For example, the cost-per-click for legal keywords in online advertising can be exorbitant, making it challenging for small firms to compete effectively. Optimizing your website, and creating a robust online presence through strategic search engine optimization (SEO) can help level the playing field. 
  5. You Can Do a Better Job Than Marketers. Some attorneys believe they can handle their marketing efforts better than the professionals. The thought process might go like this: “I successfully argued in front of the Supreme Court; I can surely draft a compelling Facebook ad.” But marketing is a different beast altogether, requiring its own set of skills and strategies. The result? Your DIY marketing efforts won’t always work, or worse, be a waste of your time and money.
attorney with clients

Attorneys Who Hate Marketing Love Us

Many attorneys hate marketing because it feels far removed from what they’re passionate about — practicing law and winning cases. In fact, the whole concept of “sales” often clashes with their professional ethos. Yet, what’s often overlooked is that effective marketing can actually fuel the aspects they do care about, like securing more referrals, contributing to the firm’s growth, and helping people. The disconnect isn’t just ironic; it’s a hurdle that could be costing them valuable opportunities.

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