A great way to distinguish yourself is to get published in your practice area. Pick one practice area, choose several topics in that practice area, and submit articles to publications that your prospective clients read on those topics. You want to create a repertoire of work in a given practice area where folks who follow that area and are interested in trends and issues in that area come to see you as an expert in that area of law. I have a partner, Craig Salner, who writes and speaks about the Fair Labor Standards Act. He does all types of employment law, but he has chosen to write and speak on the FLSA. He's written a compendium for DRI and speaks frequently on the topic. Having prepared a peer reviewed book on the topic shoots him to the top of list for most folks looking for counsel in that area. Likewise, dig deep in your practice area and come up with different articles addressing different aspects of that topic, and send a query e-mail to publications which would run that typle of article. Consider the magaizines and newsletters of this and other organizations. After your published, send them to existing and potential clients. After you've published several of them, consider turning them into an e-book you can distrubute. Remember to keep the repuplication rights so you can republish your pieces in other publications and repurpose them so as to reach an even greater audience.
Whenever you get a business card, jot down on the back the date you received the card, the location and something about the person. Input this information when you return to the office in an excel spreadsheet "rolodex" where you keep track of your contacts. A shelf full of business cards isn't particularly useful nor an effective way to stay in touch with folks you meet. Consider adding information about the contact as you meet with her in the future. This will faciliate future conversations about common interests, family and upcoming events. Once you've turned a person from whom you received a business card into an actual contact you follow up with, consider adding her to your firm's e-mail list and to your holiday card list. Also ask if they want to become friends on facebook or follow you on twitter.
We all receive calls asking for referrals. Develop a list of lawyers in different practice areas in diffrent jurisdictions to whom you would refer a case. These are lawyers you know that you would trust with your own case if you were a party to a lawsuit. Let them know they're on your list. Don't ask to be on theirs. Let them know when you provide their name to someone looking for an attorney in a practice area. One of the best way to get referrals is to make referrals. Refer an attorney a case or two and they will work to refer you cases. Help others find the lawyers they need and your assistance may lead to referrals to you in the future.
By: Francisco Ramos Jr
Saturday morning, before heading out for the day's activities, consider the following:
1) E-mail a friend or former colleague and suggest getting together for coffee or lunch.
2) Scroll through your Libkedin contacts and send one or more message about getting together.
3) Do a Google search for "legal marketing" and read an article or two on the topic.
4) Work on an article for publcation. 200 words each Satruday morning adds up to an article per month.
By Frank Ramos
Sometimes the best route between two dots is not a straight line. To that end, take time to make relationships with connectors -those individuals who work with your prospective clients. Think insurance agents, accountants and financial planners - individuals who work with the principals of companies who from time to time need legal help. These connectors have trade associations they belong to. Consider joining one. They have publications they read. Consider writing for one. What's great about connectors is that they connect you with multiple potential clients, several or more who may need you. So when networking, consider going beyond other lawyers as referral sources.
By: Francisco Ramos Jr
Take the time to educate your potential referral sources what you do, and just as importantly, what you don't do. Folks who may refer you cases should know what cases they should refer to you. Having them refer you anything and everything may sound like a boon but it results in phone calls with prospective clients you cannot help. Also, educate them about what your firm does. Perhaps you don't do employment law, but your partner is a leading FLSA lawyer. Help you referral sources help you. Likewise, get to know what business they're looking for and refer them only that business. They'll appreciate you for it.
By: Francisco Ramos Jr
When it comes to marketing, you want to seek out your audience - those who are in a position to refer you a case. They could be in house counsel. They could be outside counsel looking for local counsel or who have a conflict. They could be HR personnel with employment issues. Where do you find them? What organizations do they belong to? What are they involved with? Seek out client rich environments, such as national defense organizations, trade associations or chambers of commerce, and join. But don't simply join. Get involved. Start with doing those tasks no one else wants to do - like editing the newsletter, writing an article or marketing an event. Do the little things, and soon you'll be doing the big things, and meeting and getting to know clients along the way. Showing your compentence in organizations suggests to others your compentence in handling their matters. It all starts with seeking your audience.
By: Francisco Ramos Jr
You may have recently signed up for Twitter and are wondering "What in the world should I tweet?" Here are some suggestions:
Blog on this website and share a link to your blog post.
Share news stories relevant to your pracrtice area and comment on them.
Share recent cases and opine on their impact.
Retweet another's tweet with your own thoughts on the subject.
Share a link to an article you've written or a presentation you've given.
Share a book or movie review with your thoughts.
Share a press release.
Share motivational quotes.
Share about your hobby, whether it's golf, jazz or wine.
If you're going to start tweeting, make it part of your routine so that you tweet regularly and build a following.By Francisco Ramos
Consider hosting a networking event in the lobby of your office. Hosting your own event allows you to choose the guests and the dyanmics of the event. Consider hosting a wine tasting where you invite your clients and potential referral sources to visit your office, have some food and drinks and learn more about you, your firm and your firm's practice areas. It does not have to be a large event. An intimate setting where you have 10-20 guests opine on wine and mingle is the perfect size to get to know folks better and learn more about them as they learn more about you and your firm. Perhaps you turn it into a regular event where your clients or referral sources can try new wines each month and make it a part of their routine. They will enjoy the night out and you will have an opportunity to stay at the forefront of their minds.
By: Francisco Ramos Jr
Now and again an appellate decision comes down that doesn’t make any truly new law, but serves as a good reminder why all the elements of claims and defenses are important. McClatchy v. Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass, LLP from California’s First District Court of Appeal, is one such decision.
California has a “Doe” pleading statute, Code of Civil Procedure § 474, which allows a plaintiff to toll the statute of limitations when it doesn’t know the identity of a defendant. Doe pleading is just about universal in California; it’s close to malpractice for a plaintiff to fail to name Doe defendants in most tort cases.
A critical requirement of the Doe pleading process is the plaintiff can’t know who the fictitious defendant is and can’t know the facts giving rise to the fictitious defendant’s liability. Mr. McClatchy, or his attorneys, forgot that and attempted to join the Coblentz firm as a Doe defendant while the action was pending, but after the statute of limitations on claims against the firm had run. The Court of Appeal concluded McClatchy could not avail himself of the benefits of Doe pleading. As it explained, there is a distinction between knowing the facts and knowing or believing that a cause of action exists based upon those facts. The ignorance required by the Doe pleading statute is of the facts; the lack of belief that those known facts support a claim does not entitle the plaintiff to benefit from suing a Doe defendant.
Attorneys often rely on the lack of knowledge of the ultimate conclusion (“X is liable”) instead of the critical fact, knowledge of X’s identity and the X’s acts or omissions. McClatchy thus serves as a reminder for the attorney, regardless of which side is represented, to analyze fully the case at the outset and not rely upon a procedural safety net which may not be as real as is hoped for.