In response to our web series, Marketing yourself, generating revenue and increasing your value, we received many questions. This one I found very interesting, and so, with the author’s permission, I’ve re-asked his question (paraphrasing in parts) and posted an answer. I hope my answer resolves some of your questions about legal networking and legal marketing, as well.
I came across your website and have found it to be very helpful. In particular your program “Marketing yourself, generating revenue and increasing your value” has been an eye-opener.
As a newly-admitted attorney I have found the marketing aspect of practice very difficult. I have the academics behind me and the partners/directors are impressed with my quality of work and billing. But I find myself going from one month to the next dependant on billing- this “syndrome” was clearly identified in your article.
My firm specializes in Maritime/Shipping and fishing law. Clients in the fishing industry are locally based and this work is the bread-and-butter of the firm. However, my interest lies in shipping law. This field is dependant on foreign clients. I have found that larger firms in my area that specialize in shipping law get a huge amount of work from attorneys/solicitors from England and Singapore.
My question to you is, how do I market myself to these solicitors/attorneys? With my firm having a very limited budget, international travel is, at present, not an option.
This is an interesting situation, and the legal community is certainly becoming more international. We are no longer limited to the city in which we practice. The best thing to do is to find some attorneys who are active in shipping law (whether in your country or internationally) and speak with them directly. There are several ways to go about this.
You could make inquiries to some of the European legal associations and your local legal associations to determine if there are any networking events and/or seminars in the region that are specific to the practice area that interests you (in this case, shipping law). If you can attend these conferences, you should go and meet as many people in the field as possible. (Don’t forget to follow up with them after the seminar to start building a relationship.) If you are not able to attend the events, you may be able to get a list of those who did attend. These people would definitely be ones to reach out to for information.
Another way to meet people in the shipping law community is through your personal contacts. Send out an email to all of your friends and professors from law school. Chances are, you’ll get at least a couple of suggestions of attorneys to contact in the shipping law area. Who knows, you may even get a personal introduction. (This is always the best way to meet someone.) Don’t forget to send a hand-written thank you note to your friend or connection who introduced you.
Do some simple internet research. Find law firms that have large shipping law departments and contact one or two of the lawyers directly. Talking to partners is wonderful, but don’t overlook the junior associates, as well. They probably have a lot of information, and they may be more approachable. (I’d limit my contact with any firm to one or two people.)
Once you find some individuals you’d like to speak with, directly approach them. Although it may be a bit intimidating, remember that most people love to talk about their business and to help others. In your communication with these professionals, be honest and straightforward. Let them know that you’re trying to gain contacts and relationships abroad. If you are honest and polite, you’ll usually get a nice response. If you’d rather not call or send an email, you may be able to find connections thought social media channels, like LinkedIn.
You may also wish to consider subscribing to shipping law trade publications or online journals. Subscriptions to trades will keep you abreast of the latest developments in this type of law. You’ll also begin to know more about some of the “big players” within the industry.
Generally, the old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” rings true. The more people within your desired practice industry you can contact, the better.
If you have any questions about legal networking or legal marketing, please contact us.