Many law firm marketing consultants advise lawyers to develop an “elevator pitch” that conveys quickly what it is that he or she does as an attorney. I’ve never been comfortable with the term because it reminds me of the con artist pitch delivered (most enjoyably) by Robert Preston in The Music Man. Nonetheless, I believe in the concept.

But, how long should it be? How many floors does this here hypothetical elevator stop at – three or 33? Some say your spiel should only be ten seconds long, others say 20 or 30. Of course, if you are at the fourth floor, and the subject of your pitch is getting off on the fifth, you might want to be pretty darn quick about it.

Actually, you shouldn’t be thinking in terms of an elevator when you develop a concise statement about what you do to help clients. The chances of your actually delivering it in an elevator are remote. But I digress.

The important point is that when you tell people what you do as a lawyer, it should be short, succinct, and actually say something meaningful that will invite follow-up questions. Everyone’s style will be different, as will their message. Here are a couple that you might consider building upon for yourself when asked “what do you do?”:

Option 1: (Business Lawyer)

“I’m a (corporate/employment/intellectual property/etc.) lawyer who assists clients with their (business/work force/trademark/etc.) issues/problems while avoiding litigation, if at all possible.”

Thus begging the question, “What if you can’t avoid a court case?” See second sentence in Option 2.

Option 2: (Litigator)

“I’m a trial lawyer who tries to resolve client controversies involving (business/employment/etc.) issues without litigation, if at all possible. If a lawsuit is necessary, then I try to resolve the controversy to my client’s benefit at the earliest opportunity and at the lowest possible cost to the client.”

Do any of you have an elevator speech that you like, and that works for you? I’d love to hear from you, either as a comment to this post or by email, so I can share them with other readers. Thanks.