Resources Articles A Dozen Marketing Tips for the Time-Starved Lawyer

A Dozen Marketing Tips for the Time-Starved Lawyer

In Brief
(a publication of Texas Women Lawyers)
May 2001

“It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can do only a little. Do what you can.”
               –Sidney Smith

“Every man [sic] takes the limits of his field of vision for the limits of the world.”
               –Arthur Schopenhauer

Many of the lawyers I coach feel stymied in their efforts to successfully market their services. Some are blocked by the perception of what marketing entails. They see it as a succession of uncomfortable cold calls - and as anything but professional. Most feel that it’s simply not possible to fulfill billable hour requirements, attend to their families and also find time for marketing activities.

One of the interesting things about this situation is that most of these attorneys actually have many opportunities to market their services which don’t require the burden of substantial amounts of additional work. Marketing is so much easier if you are aware of all the things you’re already doing that have the potential to promote your work, and all the opportunities for marketing that occur in your day-to-day interactions with others.

Here are 12 tips for the lawyer who knows s/he needs to market but doesn’t have the time:


  • Marketing is developing a sense of yourself and your strengths and communicating this to others with the goal of helping them solve a problem.
  • Many lawyers avoid marketing because they define it as repugnant. Few attorneys go into law in order to make cold calls or push to close a sale.
  • Certainly cold calling may be one marketing strategy you could choose. But there are many ways to communicate your unique expertise and talent.
  • Stop telling yourself you have to be a superstar to market. There is no one “right way.” Marketing is only effective if you do it - and you’re far more likely to do it if your marketing activities fit comfortably in your life.


  • These days it’s not realistic to say you don’t have time to market. Instead, consider how you can best use the time you have to do what must be done. Ask yourself, “If my life depended on getting around this “reality,” what would I do?”
  • Even more importantly - marketing is the best way to implement your career plan and control your life. Clarifying your vision of your “perfect” client and developing a solid sense of your strengths and the work you want to do empowers you to further your own success.
  • Designing your career, developing a network consistent with your goals, and acquiring a client book are the pathways to real career autonomy.


  • Before they can hire you, prospective clients must be aware of you and perceive you to have the expertise they need. You can become more visible and credible by writing articles for publications read by your market, giving speeches at their trade association meetings, sending newsletters to targeted companies and hosting seminars for industry leaders.
  • But credibility isn’t enough to get you hired. Direct contact is essential for building the relationships you’ll need to get hired.
  • Cold calling, warm calls, arranging an appointment, sending a personal letter of introduction and meeting for lunch or coffee are all ways of making contact.
  • But the single most important part of your strategy is networking.


  • Networking is a sincere and consistent effort to help others with the hope that they will, in turn, help you. You can help people in your network by providing them with information, introductions, ideas, referrals, advice, emotional support and free PR. Your hope is that they, in turn, will reciprocate.
  • The most important skills in relationship building are active listening and showing that you understand the other person’s situation and experience. Women, in particular, usually have finely honed these skills. It’s useful to remember that many marketing activities come quite naturally to you.


  • Management consultant and author David Maister encourages lawyers to approach prospects and clients as people with whom you’d like to have a long-term romantic relationship. Maister’s rules are:
    • communicate honestly
    • listen and work to understand
    • communicate frequently
    • be supportive and understanding, not critical
    • genuinely care about the relationship
    • express appreciation


  • Without a plan, most lawyers won’t market because they view it as difficult or unpleasant. But developing your own individual marketing plan enables you to make optimal use of the time you have and to avoid time wasters that don’t fit with your priorities.
  • A marketing plan also allows you to stop thinking about marketing as an overwhelming project and instead to break it down into small action steps that you can easily accomplish.
  • Many lawyers find that coaching enables them to develop a realistic plan, break marketing activities into manageable action steps and successfully follow through.


  • In order to achieve career success without sacrificing a fulfilling life, it’s critical to design your career by taking your whole life into account.
  • At least once a year, take the time to write out all of your important life roles (as parent, partner, child of aging parent, lawyer, friend, community member, person who needs to nurture your health and outside interests.) Ask yourself what you want to accomplish in each of these roles during the coming year. What do you have to do to accomplish these goals?
  • Refer to your life plan as you schedule your monthly, weekly and daily planner.


  • Changing your concept of marketing can change your feelings, attitudes and behavior. Once you’ve redefined marketing, you can become aware of all of of the opportunities for marketing that were there all along.
  • There are a multitude of activities that allow you to be with your family and contribute to your community while marketing your skills. What if you took your children to a fund-raiser for a homeless shelter that was sponsored by a company in your target niche?
  • Marketing is more of a mindset than the ability to devote time to particular tasks. Once it becomes a natural part of your daily activities, time becomes less of an issue. You begin to realize that you have opportunities to market in almost every context in which you interact with people.


  • When we allow work to consume our lives, we tend to become myopic and ungenerous. A normally thoughtful, considerate person can find herself being brusque, not returning phone calls, or focusing only on business matters when talking to a client who’s just told you that her mother is critically ill.
  • It’s essential to maintain sufficient balance and flexibility to behave like the caring person you really are. Simply treat others the way you’d like to be treated.


  • A single work project can be recycled into a plethora of marketing activities. Consider inviting a group of clients to a presentation about the ways in which your project is relevant to them. Submit an article about the project to your niche’s industry publication — and make sure it’s published in your firm’s newsletter as well. Contact organizations like Fulcrum and offer to speak on the topic. You can make this the core of a speech you deliver at other meetings your niche attends.
  • Leveraging is a way to get maximum usage out of the work you’re already doing. It’s a great time saver.


  • To begin, make a list of all the people you used to know, those you currently know, those who know you and those you would like to know.
  • It’s often the case that if you list all the people connected with your network members, you’ll find a route to the people you want to meet - such as the new corporate counsel of a major player in the industry you represent.
  • To build and maintain relationships with selected people in your network, you can sit on boards, participate in volunteer activities, serve on industry committees, and maintain regular contact through phone calls, e-mail, and lunches. If a particular relationship deepens, consider inviting that person along with his or her family to your home.


  • Don’t expect instant results from your marketing activities. If you do, you’ll get discouraged and give up too quickly. Keep in mind that it takes a long time for marketing activities to bear fruit. Right now you’re just planting seeds. Persistence and patience are key.

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Ellen Ostrow, Ph.D., CMC

Rockville, MD
Phone: 844-818-9471

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