Earlier this month in a question and answer forum on the Globe and Mail website, Justice Harvey Brownstone, author of Tug of War, stated that “the legal profession does not do a great job of ‘marketing itself,’ so that the public can understand exactly what lawyers do and why it is so important to have a lawyer…” I really must agree with Judge Brownstone on this point. I have often thought that people don’t really know how much better off they are with a lawyer’s help, but I hadn’t thought of it as a lack of ‘marketing’ in the legal profession. Judge Brownstone is right though; if the legal profession marketed itself better, then people would know that a good lawyer on your side is priceless, especially in situations where money is not the only thing you stand to lose. But people don’t see the value in hiring a lawyer and that’s the biggest problem. Take the situation of someone writing up their own will for instance. Without a lawyer, a person often doesn’t understand how serious it is to have a will that is not completely clear; or one that does not take into consideration all future possibilities. This can be as simple as leaving everything to one person and not accounting for the fact that they may die before you and you have not named anyone to take their place. With a lawyer drafting up a will, virtually every possibility can be accounted for because that lawyer knows to do it, unlike the rest of us that don’t draft up wills everyday. The problem is that people don’t see the value in hiring a lawyer to draft up their will because they don’t realize the repercussions if they don’t have a will or if they have an incomplete or invalid will. Lawyers know the repercussions well; but they have to communicate that to potential clients or people are left in the dark.
What can lawyers do to market themselves better? Well, first of all they could actually ‘market’ themselves. Having a listing in the phone book doesn’t do much to tell people about your services. Nowadays we expect more information. This is an information age we’re in after all! We want to know exactly what the costs are; how long it will take; what exactly the lawyer is and isn’t going to do for us; and most of all we want value for our money. We need to be taught that a lawyer’s services are valuable, that we really should have a lawyer in so many instances where we think we can get along without one. If lawyers don’t start marketing themselves better by opening up about what they do, how much they charge, and what they know, people will continue to see little value in hiring a lawyer unless they are filthy rich and don’t care about the money. But how is a lawyer going to fit all that information into a phone book ad? Well, they don’t have to. There’s this thing called the ‘Internet’-I think we’ve all heard of it by now. And lawyers shouldn’t be satisfied with a glorified phone book ad on a lawyer directory somewhere. They can let everyone know all about themselves through social networking sites. The best part about this type of advertising is that it’s free! And we all like free, even lawyers. There’s Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and AdviceScene (where you can actually connect directly with potential clients by answering their questions for free on a public forum). So to all the lawyers out there, come on, get on some social networking sites and let us know what you know so that we know we need you!
Nancy Kinney B.A., LL.B
Founder of AdviceScene.com
Democratizing the law one question at a time