Being a lawyer comes with a unique set of challenges, starting from the ever-changing law to the technology advancements that require new legal solutions, and to the recent pandemic that suspended the activity of the Romanian courts, and with it a large part of our work, a change that almost no one saw coming. Running a law firm in these troubled times is not easy, as it is not easy for anyone working on building a company today. However, a unique set of challenges as a law firm is the sales and marketing part, as Romanian lawyers face a series of limitations unique only to this field. On short, we as lawyers are not allowed to promote our services, at least not using traditional marketing techniques. By navigating the challenges of a “no marketing” marketing strategy, I learned a lot about what a consultant in any area can do to make her services know, without actually promoting anything.
The Romanian law that governs the lawyers activity was first published in 1995 and it pretty much remained the same in the past 25 years, at least when it comes to marketing. The law forbids almost all types of marketing activities, as these activities were seen unfit for the dignity of the legal profession where all its members are to be considered equals, therefore not one better than the other, and the promotions activities unfit for the status of the lawyer.
Two years ago, when my partner and I started our own law firm, respecting the law and making our services known was a big challenge and we were lost. More than two years from that moment, we learned a few things that helped us grow our practice and not make marketing our main focus. And I believe these are the lessons that any consultant can take and put into practice:
- Help, don’t sell
As we cannot advertise our services and tell people to come buy from us by means of google ads and facebook campaigns, we decided to simply tell people what we know. Therefore, we decided to invest in writing articles, and case studies, and legal opinions, and simply being of services to others, clients and colleagues. We do not have a PR agency doing that for us, it is just us and our legal expertise, we don’t optimize our articles and opinions for key words, and we don’t have a primary target to sell anything. Therefore, all it takes is an investment in time. And although we haven’t written much, some of our clients found us through our articles.
- Make friends, not clients
As we cannot go into the world with the sole purpose to sell our services and attract new clients, we decided to make new friends. Therefore, I joined several business clubs for networking opportunities. I learned that selling comes last and that the people who will be your clients are always the people you can connect to on a personal level. There is no need to go anywhere to sell, the goal should be just to make a new friend. Some of our new friends became our clients. Some brought other clients. Some didn’t, but they taught me important lessons and helped me navigate troubled times.
- Be a partner, not a service provider
Most of our clients came from the recommendations of other clients, and in the legal profession the word of mouth is still the primary way of marketing the company, and I believe it still is for many of the consultancy businesses. I like to think that we managed to be recommended because we treat our clients as partners, not just as the people that pay our bills. Positioning ourselves as partners, and not just service providers, meant that sometimes we offered advice outside the scope of the contract and that some of that advice was not billable. In return, our clients involved us in their projects, recommended us and helped us grow.
Loredana Costina, Lawyer, Partner at Corobană și Asociații – Attorneys at Law