As the clich� goes (from those golden years of lawyering before marketing) – “in the old days, it was enough to be a good lawyer and this marketing stuff was not necessary.” (If I had a nickel for every time I heard that over that last two decades, I’d be retired rich and living in Florida – oh yeah, I’m half way there anyway.) So, to that I say bullsugar.
Marketing always existed, if not in a formal business school sense. Traditionally, lawyers and clients have always socialized at the country club after a round of golf, or at the The Lunch Club. And I am sure that lawyers never discussed business and legal issues at a time like that. Nah! Nor would a lawyer sell his (sorry, not many “hers” back then) services by recommending certain actions the client should take, or “suggest” that the client introduce him to Joe Schmo for the purpose of representing good ole Joe. Certainly Not!
Well, networking and word of mouth were just as important in those golden years as they are now. So, marketing (and sales) is not new to our profession. Heck, even Abe Lincoln advertised his law practice in the Springfield, Illinois’s Sangamo Journal (1837 and 1841) and Illinois Journal (1848). On the front page no less. Copies are available from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.
Thus, when I saw the article by Thom Singer talking about the lawyer he knows who said he didn’t need to market (something about his having more business than he could handle and being the best kept secret, etc.), it brought it all back. It is not enough just being a great lawyer. As Thom says, you need both credibility (as a result of your good lawyering), and visibility (through marketing).