Over breakfast at Le Meridian Hotel, James Schmidt and I sat in the historic former federal courthouse to plan our upcoming year as co-chairs of the Solo & Small Firm Section of the Hillsborough County Bar Association. We agreed that the goal this year will be to promote development of our section membership through educational opportunities, networking, and social events.
In the past, James revealed, educational opportunities for the year tended to focus on a connected theme. After significant discussion, we have decided that technology would be the unifying educational theme.
Marketing, web pages, newsletters, and presentations build your exposure. Your name is your brand. It has been built with years of hard work. Lawyers have always relied on word of mouth referrals from clients and colleagues to obtain new business. It is a very effective manner to grow your firm. Your reputation for excellent work resulted in a new client seeking advice from you.
In the 1980s, there were few meaningful guides to direct lawyers or their potential clients to other lawyers. Martindale Hubble ratings and inclusion in the Best Lawyers book were strong endorsements in an industry that traditionally shunned advertisements. Lawyers would purchase listings in these publications to build and manage the lawyer’s reputation. Very little information was readily available about the lawyer, which could not be controlled.
Today, however, it is likely that potential clients will know more about the lawyer before they walk in the law firm door, than the lawyer will learn from them in the first meeting. This is possible because of technology. Potential clients often run a Google search on the prospective attorney.
What would your clients find? How much control do you have on information posted? Lawyers.com, BestLawyers.com, SuperLawyers.com, and Avvo.com are all tools that potential clients may review prior to choosing legal counsel. When was the last time you reviewed the information on those sites? What can you post and not run afoul of The Florida Bar ethics rules?
Although this is one issue of technology, the section will be addressing many others. We are planning to have four lunch CLE meetings this year and monthly networking events. If you are a solo or small firm practitioner interested in fresh ideas, additional resources, and expanding your network, then consider joining our section. We look forward to hearing from you.