How do I market a family law practice?

Posted on: November 21, 2009

I present many public courses (for example, for CLT) and inhouse workshops for family departments looking to increase the amount of profitable work they generate. Here are some of the main themes I tackle in my sessions – please look at my blog for more recent updates on the statistics, trends and latest marketing methods being used by family practitioners.

The need for analysis and a strategic plan

Develop a marketing plan. Remember that the journey (i.e. the analysis and research) is often more important than the destination (i.e. the plan). Follow the simple strategic steps:

  • Where are we now? You need to undertake a detailed review of information from within your own firm and team. This audit might include information about past work, past sources and referrers of work, the profitability and desirability of the work, the nature of the clients and the range of skills and services provided by your people. And should, of course, extend to factors beyond your firm – developments in the legal environment, amongst new and emerging competitors, with the march of technological development and sociological changes. This is your baseline against which you will set goals and measure progress and also your source of ideas about opportunities and threats.
  • Where do we want to be? With a good audit you should have sufficient information to be able to set SMART objectives so that the partners’ expectations of what they want to achieve are managed and so it is easier to select those marketing programmes which will deliver those results most effectively. You need objectives to measure your progress and return on investment in marketing programmes.
  • How will we get there? There are some headline strategic decisions to make – will you generate the work yourself or rely on a third party or a strategic alliance – or even outsource lead generation entirely? Will you attempt to market to consumers (a B2C approach) or through other intermediaries in the market (a B2B approach)? Are you targeting a special slice or segment of the market and positioning yourself appropriately? And what are the main elements of each part of the marketing mix – the marketplace, the product or service being promoted, the pricing and payment as well as the promotional strategy. You must identify your (unique) competitive advantage.

Traditional methods of marketing

There are traditional models of law firm marketing – that continue to serve some firms (even very large ones) extremely well. I categorise the different methods as follows:

  • Reputation – Links with professional bodies, directory listings, media relations profile etc. For recent examples of great issues based marketing note the recent research by Seddons into pre-nuptial agreements and Mishcon de Raya into continuing contact with fathers post divorce to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Children’s Act
  • Real information and value – Good content on web sites and in newsletters, thought leadership research, seminars and briefings that go beyond the narrow confines of the legal issues.
  • Relationships – Whether this is internally focused cross-selling strategies, a focus on existing clients and referrers, embedding within the local or specialist communities or lavish entertaining and hospitality approaches.

Changing families and changing needs

I presented an array of statistics and trends to show how dynamic the family market has become. For example:

Statistics

    • 270,000 weddings in the UK in 2007 (-2.7%)
    • 88,000 remarriages
    • 144,000 divorces (-2.6%)
    • 18,000 civil partnerships
    • Population growth – 791,000 births
    • 24% births to mothers born outside UK
    • 46% children born out of wedlock
    • 12% households with lone parent
    • 210,000 single fathers in the UK
    • 1+ in 10 children in a stepfamily
    • Secularisation – 31% attend religious services

Trends

    • Better education and later marriage
    • “Connected anonymity and social disconnection”
    • Religious demands (e.g. polygamy, Sharia law)
    • Cohabitation
    • Female financial independence/Lone parenting
    • Obesity and early mortality
    • Negative equity
    • Grandparents rights to contact
    • Divorce parties/cakes
    • Father gets residence as mother denies contact

Also look at the host of other professionals who are edging into the divorce market who may try to challenge the trusted adviser relationship of lawyers:

Commoditisation, innovation and new services

Read my other comments on this important topic. Better still, read the work of Richard Susskind. For relevant examples, see Mogers law firm work on a modularised approach to family law or the downloadable legal “products” at Nelsons.

Impact of digital marketing and social media

The statistics relating to social media are changing all the time so check the latest ones:

Network Average age UK Global
Myspace 26 107m
Twitter 31 6m 58m
Facebook 33 22m 411m
LinkedIn 39 2m 45m

You can pay to drive traffic to your web site using Google Adwords or you can use all the techniques (see the FAQ on Inbound marketing) to help get your site found on the search engines. Strategies for Facebook, LinkedIn (including discussions and polls) and wikis as well as Twitter (there is a FAQ on Twitter for professional service firms) were discussed (see the blog posts below for more detail). Blogs are increasingly becoming an important tool in this area – as are links to the most authoritative web sites such as Divorce Online and Wikivorce.

Other approaches

I am constantly finding new approaches to marketing family law, for example:

  • Starting Over Show (London/Brighton 7 March 2010)
    • Free surgeries – Bennett Griffin/Mayo Wynne Baxter
  • Youtube
    • KentTV.Com Philip Dimond/Guillards “How to get a divorce”
    • Even the Law Society has a guide to divorce on here
  • www.myvouchers.co.uk
  • Podcasts
  • Contributed/syndicated articles
  • Affiliate partnership
    • Flint Bishop – organisations with 5,000 employees
    • Branded web site for company
    • Referral fee or discount

And finally – if you can bear it – have a look at some of the legal and divorce apps (applications) becoming available on smartphones such as iPhones.

 

I do not restrict access to the FAQs but I politely request that you let me know by email and acknowledge the source (www.kimtasso.com) if you wish to use the material anywhere.

As always, if there are particular topics you would like me to address in the future, please let me know. You will also find a source of more and up to date information on a broad range of management and marketing issues in the professions by checking out the blog where I also post regular reviews of books that might be helpful.

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