One of my profs during the first-year of university told me there are 4 types of lawyers:
- Finders are those who find the work, better known today as rainmakers
- Grinders are those who grind out the client work, and are really efficient and doing research memos
- Binders are those who bring the members of a firm together by (for example) inviting a small group to lunch or recognizing achievements of the firm’s lawyers
- Minders are those who perform administrative tasks, and coordinate the efforts of the finders, grinders, and binders to be sure that the firm will run as a cohesive whole; examples include managing partners, the executive committee, team leaders, etc.
Although the modern lawyer usually needs proficiency in more than one area, he told me that I was clearly the first type, a finder.
Every law firm needs all of these types to be successful. And every firm should be looking at innovative and creative ways of client development.
The Internet is not actually new, but it’s not being used to its full potential by individual lawyers and firms alike. Unless attracting new clients is of complete disinterest to both, they are making a serious mistake.
Clients rarely turn to the phone books any more to find a lawyer. They go beyond the word of mouth referrals and turn online.
Jim Calloway, the Oklahoma Bar Association’s tech guru, said,
It is incumbent on every lawyer in private practice or every law firm to have a Web site. It is an absolute business necessity today, in my judgment.
Calloway claims that even reputable firms may lose tech-savvy clients if they have poorly designed sites.
Yellow Pages has realized it is “getting killed” by the Internet, and is now offering online services to law firms that include video.
Revised rules for professional conduct have provided more leeway for advertising than in the past. But it doesn’t mean taste should be kicked to the curb.
Debbie Monroe of Findlaw said,
A 1996 article in the Journal of Law Technology and Politics cited the potential for “ambulance chasers on the Internet.” The author warned, “If the legal profession wishes to preserve its dignity and protect the public, it must begin to exercise the same self-restraint now with respect to advertising over the Internet that it exercises with respect to other advertising media.” Many feared the Internet would be overrun with Web sites such as “www.whiplash.com.” In truth, that particular Web address is still unused today.
Practice area newsletters, already produced by the firm, can easily be transformed into time-released blog entries that are structured more favourably to search engines.
The editor of Blawg Review strongly recommends the professional services of LexBlog, which can be incorporated into your firm’s existing web infrastructure if need be. For example, Stikeman Elliot, LLP recently launched its Canadian Securities Law Online blog.
And just making a site is not enough. You need potential clients to read and comment on your site, and for you to comment on other legal sites, all on top of your billable hours.
Anyone reading Slaw is probably already one step ahead of the game. But your partners and associates are not, and someone needs to convince the managing partner to bump up the line item for web development.
Still, many firms are still wary of entering the online sphere with a significant presence. And to their loss.
Their competitors already are.
Check out Kevin O’Keefe’s recent post on how the Growing use of Internet search engines represents golden opportunity for law blogs.
I also contacted LexBlog to see what other firms in Canada utilize their services.
Yet, a survey by the ABA for the September 2008 magazine indicated that lawyers are still slow to adopt new technology. This might be due to the impression that social media takes up too much time. But Sam Glover of Lawyerist claims that it takes as little as 10-15 minutes a day to keep up your social networks, and there are other tricks to reduce this time even further.