It’s never been easy to become a lawyer. But these days, even if you passed the bar a few decades ago, just being a lawyer is hard.
Why? Competition is a big part of the picture. More law firms are competing for the same number of clients. And more money is going into legal TV advertising than ever before.
In a world where advertising is simultaneously more important and harder to execute, we think it’s crucial to have a solid strategy to achieve better results.
Network Affiliates has been a part of the attorney TV advertising space for as long as it has existed. We’ve stood as a witness to the shifting trends and mounting challenges, and part of our job is helping our clients sail those winds of change.
In life, the best solutions come from an in-depth understanding of the problem. To that end, we’re using our deep industry knowledge to map out the current challenges facing legal advertisers today.
We begin in this article with the internal challenges facing your firm from within your own industry. Later, Part II will look at the external challenges.
We want you to understand these challenges so that, in turn, you’ll understand how we can help you overcome them. Our goals for your firm are simple:
- More clients
- Increased referrals
- Better cases
- Increased ROI
- A reputation as the local leader in your field
Our marketing strategies for law firms are, frankly, very effective at making these goals reality. They work for our clients, and they’ll work for you. But here’s what you’re up against.
Your Competitors Are Probably Outspending You.
Between 2014 and 2015, overall television spending grew from $69.2 billion to $71.1 billion. Forecasters expect that number to hit $81 billion by 2019. That’s less than two years away!
Do you know which industry is driving the biggest portion of that growth? You guessed it! Legal services.
Attorney TV advertising grew six times faster than all other ad spending from 2008 to 2014. And in 2015, it claimed the sixth spot on the Top 20 Broadcast Advertisers chart.
If you do much channel surfing in your all-too-scarce free time, you’ve probably noticed this uptick yourself. Attorney commercials are everywhere. There’s a reason for that: they are mightily effective.
This means you have a real challenge in front of you: your competitors are making significant investments in TV advertising. So how can you outdo them? How do you stand out from the pack?
National Players Are Entering Your Market.
Once upon a time, your biggest competitors were in an office two blocks away. Jurisdictional boundaries meant that law was a local game. But that’s changing.
Huge multistate law firms are aggressively expanding beyond their home states. They have effectively established themselves as national law firms “for the little guy.” And because they invest immense amounts in advertising, they’re able to quickly build a reputation from many miles away.
In addition, the internet has become a “national player” all its own. Millennials are on the cusp of adulthood, and they are a very web-savvy bunch. The internet is their playground. Free online tutorials and do-it-yourself services like LegalZoom are a big threat to local law firms.
Dentons recently announced an all-new, free-to-use Nextlaw Global Referral Network. It’s the latest blow to localized legal services, as it mechanizes lawyer referrals on a global scale.
All of this means your advertising efforts must set you apart not only from your rival across the street but also from all the other options available to your clients in our globally interconnected world.
Last year, Bloomberg Law reported that law firms are consolidating in record numbers in the United States. If you aren’t one of those firms, then your competitors are only growing bigger.
Venture Capitalist Money
According to Law.com, at least 18 major law firms are either considering or actively engaging in ongoing relationships with deep-pocketed venture capitalists.
It’s called litigation investment, and it’s a booming business. Essentially, non-lawyers are getting together and pouring money into blossoming law firms, recouping part of the profits as a return… just like they would in any other capital venture.
If that sounds unethical to you, you might be onto something. Some legal watchdogs expect ethics boards to crack down on the practice. But they haven’t yet, and there’s no way to know whether (or how) that might happen.
In the meantime, these venture capitalists only add to the mega-firm trend.
Law Firms in Local Wal-Marts
It almost sounds too weird to be true, but believe it or not, law firms are opening inside Wal-Marts around the country. We don’t mean that figuratively. You can actually walk into some of these big-box retailers and find a fully functioning law firm sandwiched between the game arcade and the nail salon.
ABA Journal and FindLaw have both profiled once-small law firms that have partnered with their local Wal-Marts to hang a shingle inside their warehouse walls.
While many lawyers look down on the idea, they also need to take it seriously. Wal-Mart has hampered (if not crushed) many a small business in this country. You can imagine that many of your prospective clients might find the idea of a one-stop shop for legal services appealing, especially in the personal injury field.
A Wal-Mart firm enjoys unparalleled visibility — something you’ll need to rival on television.
There is remarkable political momentum toward tort reform in the United States. Already, many jurisdictions have made it harder than ever to bring these cases in the first place. Even a successful settlement or verdict comes with a smaller profit margin than ever before.
Indeed, of all the challenges we’ve enumerated in this article, tort reform might have already had the most profound impact on your business (especially if you’re practicing med-mal in a state with a pro-reform political climate).
So How Do You Survive?
It isn’t easy. The legal space is getting more crowded, and the competition is dense. There is good news, though. Television is a proven and reliable answer to the problem.
Law firms that make prudent investments in lawyer TV advertising see measurable results. Many tell us it’s the best decision they ever made. To stand out, though, you need the right mindset and a truly strategic approach. We address that approach in further detail in our latest white paper, A Legal Advertising Survival Guide for PI Attorneys.
Network Affiliates is an industry leader in law firm marketing. We know how to position you against your biggest competitors and produce results. In fact, our agency produced one of the country’s very first legal TV commercials. That’s how long we’ve been in the game!
Put our experience on your side. Call (888) 461-1016 or contact us online today.