Marketing your firm goes beyond establishing a positive reputation with clients, prospects and referral sources. How you position the image of the firm, and the actions taken by individual lawyers, toward other attorneys makes a difference in the long run business success of the firm. While many who practice law take pride in their "rough and tough" personalities, lawyers are still people.... and people do business with those they know, like and trust.
Being a bulldog in court and knowing how to win for clients is a good thing, but being an asshole in life is something different. When you treat other lawyers with disrespect you are not helping the long-term goal of growing your practice or the firm. Too many in management turn a blind eye to the way some of their team behave because these lawyers have great skills or control a large book of business. However those who have toxic personalities are hurting the long run of opportunities.
Many attorneys receive business leads from referrals from other lawyers. In all practice areas some of the most successful lawyers have strong networks that include peers across their city, state, country and internationally. Those who do not share a specific expertise or are conflicted from representing a specific client will very often steer the business to someone they know can handle the matter correctly. There are many choices of where to refer business, and if you desire having inbound business from others you need to make sure than nobody on your team is poisoning the well by how they behave toward other lawyers.
Hurting your brand can happen when on opposite sides of case, or in how you engage with others in the legal and business communities. A lawyer who disrespects opposing counsel will not only harm their own reputation, but can get their whole firm removed from the opportunity to be referred cases. It happens all the time that when deciding where to refer a piece of good business that the decision is made based on personal feelings.
Beyond referrals you also want to be positioned as a "Destination Firm" for lawyers on the move. It is not uncommon for lawyers with strong books of business to seek a new firm at some point. If your office is seen as a dynamic and growth oriented place that supports its lawyers, others will seek you out as a possible new home. On the flip side, nobody wants to intentionally work with difficult people. If you are rumored to be dysfunctional or have attorneys that are well known jerks, these laterally moving individuals or practice groups will go somewhere else to practice law, taking their business with them.
Being a "Destination Firm" means that you have to educate your team on how to talk about the firm in legal circles. Anyone can have a bad day, but if your partners and associates bad-mouth the firm in any way, even to their friends, then people will have questionable ideas about life on the inside. Venting may make a person feel better, but it paints a negative picture that could influence the decision of an important lateral hire (even years down the line).
Your branding with other lawyers is often overlooked. They are seen as the competition, and the enemy. However, the most successful attorneys and firms see beyond the short term and realize that how they are viewed within the legal community can positively or negatively impact their bottom line over time. Make sure that the actions of all your team set you up as a "Destination Firm" for referrals and lateral hires!
Have A Great Day
Thom Singer is experienced in legal marketing and business development. He regularly speaks at law firm retreats inspiring attorneys to embrace their brand and increase their sales. He also teaches lawyers ways to improve their presentation skills as the firm's secret weapon for business development success. More information at www.ThomSinger.com.