How integrated legal marketing works when you’re off the clock

It’s vacation season, and you need a break – and “need” is the right word to use, because the legal industry is notorious for overwork, leading to lawyer burnout, low job satisfaction and poor lawyer mental health. For solo attorneys and lawyers at small law firms, the pressure to stay behind a desk may be extra strong, since there can be sense that a practice needs someone at the helm if it’s going to make it long-term.

If you work at a small law firm or are a solo attorney, you deserve a break just as much as (or maybe even more than) anyone else. In fact, your practice may be better off for it because you’ll return rejuvenated and re-motivated. One thing you don’t have to worry about is whether your marketing efforts can survive without you present for a little while—because they can.

Here are four digital legal marketing techniques that can keep your business development efforts running smoothly while you get your well-deserved R&R.

Always-on web chat and call-answering services

FindLaw research has shown that when legal consumers feel like an attorney hasn’t been responsive to them, they move on to another lawyer or law firm very quickly. That’s especially true in certain fields, like criminal defense or family law, where the client perceives there to be great urgency. Web chat and call-answering services are perhaps the best way to help a new client feel acknowledged without requiring you to be available 24 hours a day (which, in case it needs to be said, is not feasible). In many cases, legal consumers just want to know they’ve been heard and their concerns are being registered. Oftentimes, that’s enough to keep a prospective new client from running to the attorney down the road.

A professionally managed website

A good web development service will always be working on your behalf to make sure your website is in top-notch shape, even if you aren’t doing anything yourself to actively manage it. FindLaw, for example, is continually monitoring Internet-based consumer behavior, fine-tuning the best practices for its professionally written website copy, and adjusting the mobile-adaptability of its websites.

There was a time when plunking a website on the Internet and hoping it did some kind of abstract client-attraction magic seemed sufficient, but it’s abundantly apparent that isn’t the case any longer. You don’t have to work to keep up with shifting consumer behavior and technical changes, though, if your website vendor is doing that on your behalf—as it should.

Thoughtfully constructed social media

A well-crafted social media presence shows who you are and what it’s like to work with you, thus setting you apart from the many other attorneys in your market (whom, research shows, consumers have a hard time telling apart). Posting about recent things, like a significant client victory or an award, is a best practice, but that doesn’t mean the value of a social media post has an expiration date.

It’s common for legal consumers to peruse a fair amount of content on a Facebook page, LinkedIn profile or Twitter feed as they try to gain a sense of what you’re like. Thus, the aggregate sum of your social media presence can still help you put your best foot forward, even if you’re not actively managing it. Of course, you can always ask a colleague to post some pre-written content while you’re on vacation, or hire a social media service to do it all for you.

A robust body of ratings and reviews

Few digital legal marketing tools have taken off quite like reviews and ratings have. FindLaw’s research confirms that consumers look at them before choosing which attorney to hire and take what people have to say seriously. One reason for that is many legal clients haven’t made a legal hiring decision before, so they like the feeling that others have verified their choice of attorney.

Lawyers can certainly build a body of ratings and reviews on their own (by asking clients to write a review or rating at the closing of a matter, for example), but many people find that automated ratings and reviews management programs are easier and smoother. It’s not so different from social media in that the value of an item (in this case, a review) lasts longer than you may think, and can keep providing value even when you’re not in the office.

Of course, all of this applies to short breaks, like a standard vacation. Making the most of your law firm’s marketing efforts does require monitoring and input from you, but not to the extent you can’t get out of town for a little while.

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