Legal Marketing Research : 2008 Small Law Firm Report

Responsibility for Marketing the Firm

  • Partners continue to have primary responsibility for planning and executing marketing plans.
  • More office managers and assistants are taking an active role in marketing decisions.
  • In 9% of firms, outside sources (marketing consultant, marketing service provider, outside agency) have primary marketing responsibility, unchanged from 2005.
  • Solo practitioners have increased the use of outside consultants by 29% and staff members other than a partner by 60% from 2005.
  • Mid-size firms (2-5 attorneys) increased their reliance on other staff members by 17% from 2005.
  • Larger firms (6+ attorneys) tend to rely less on a marketing consultant and more on other staff members, including marketing managers, in 2007 than they did in 2005.

Marketing Spend

  • Percentage revenue allocated to marketing activities has increased slightly over the past two years. Overall, firms are spending at a consistent dollar level between 2005 and 2007.

Solo practitioners:

  • Increased their spending of 5% or more of revenue from 2005 (39% vs. 26%), and more than tripled their spending of 5% or more from 2002 (39% vs. 12%).
  • Are spending at a consistent dollar level as compared to 2005.

2-5 attorney firms:

  • More than doubled in their spending of 5% or more of revenue over the past five years (27% vs. 12%).
  • Decreased their spending of over $10K (30% vs. 33%) since 2005.

6-10 attorney firms:

  • Slightly increased their spending of 5% or more (14% vs. 12%) from 2005 and more than doubled from 2002 (14% vs. 6%).
  • Decreased their spending of over $10K (39% vs. 46%) since 2005.

11-20 attorney firms:

  • Followed the same pattern in allocating revenue to marketing activities in 2007 as in 2005.
  • Increased their spending of over $50K (19% vs. 13%) since 2005.

Significance of Internet Marketing

  • Law firms continue to use the Internet to promote their practice, and are using the latest techniques to attract potential clients.
  • Search engine optimization has increased from 2005 (55% vs. 50%), and slightly more firms in 2007 use online legal sites to attract clients (14% vs. 12%).
  • Four times as many firms report the use of blogs in 2007 as compared to 2005 (8% vs. 2%), indicating the desire to explore new methods in addition to traditional tactics to attract potential clients.

Perceived Value of Marketing Tactics

  • Networking and word-of-mouth continue to be integral to building a law practice; however, online activities are also prevalent in integrated marketing campaigns.
  • Web sites are still considered a primary marketing tool for growing a firm’s practice, and more money is allocated towards this tactic than in 2005.
  • Blogs are beginning to demonstrate value in attracting clients; however, it should be noted that very little revenue is allocated towards this activity (1%).
  • While face-to-face interaction with potential clients is still important, client entertainment is decreasing in its value to attract potential clients, and less money is being allocated towards it from 2005.

Smaller firms (1-5 attorneys)

  • Firms with 2-5 attorneys have increased their spending on their Web sites from 2005 by 64% (18% vs. 11%), but have allocated less of their budget for client entertainment, down 21% (15% vs. 19%).
  • 2-5 attorney firms have decreased their yellow pages spend by 16% (21% vs. 25%).
  • Solo practitioners spend more on pay-per-click than larger firms (4% vs. 1%); they have also doubled their spending on sponsorships on legal Web sites (2% vs. 1%) since 2005.

Larger firms (6-20 attorneys)

  • Firms with 11-20 attorneys have decreased their spending on client meals and entertainment by 28% (23% vs. 32%) since 2005. However, it is still a primary activity within their budgets as compared to smaller firms.
  • Firms with 11-20 attorneys also tend to spend more on event sponsorships, than smaller firms.
  • Spending on event sponsorships among firms with 11 to 20 attorneys has increased by 18% (13% vs. 11%)since 2005.
  • Firms with 6-10 attorneys have decreased their spending on outdoor advertising by half (2% vs. 4%) since 2005.
  • With regard to live networking opportunities, 6-10 attorney firms have increased spend on event sponsorships by 25% (10% vs. 8%), but decreased client entertainment by 10% (27% vs. 30%) since 2005.

Solo Attorneys

Over time, yellow pages, legal listings, client entertainment, and firm websites are still top marketing tactics utilized by solo practitioners. Spending on yellow pages listings has decreased slightly from 2005, while spending on legal directories, client entertainment, and firm Web sites have experienced a slight increase. Spending on online tactics has doubled, with both pay-per-click (4% vs. 2%) and sponsorships on legal websites (2% vs. 1%) increasing by 100% from 2005.

Perceived value of Marketing Tactics

  • Networking and word-of-mouth tactics are still integral to building a law practice; however, online activities are also prevalent in integrated marketing campaigns.
  • The perceived value of Web sites as a primary marketing tool for growing a practice, regardless of firm size, has remained consistent over time.
  • Most other marketing tactics have slightly lesser perceived value than in 2005.

% Respondents that Indicated Tactic as Valuable*

 
2007
2005

Law Firm Websites

89%
89%

Printed/online legal directory/listings

82%
85%

Public/media relations/writing articles

76%
79%

Giving/hosting seminars

76%
78%

Client meals/entertainment

71%
75%

Event sponsorships/community events

63%
68%

Print/online yellow pages

64%
68%

Referral Services

51%
51%

Sponsorship/placement on legal websites

44%
46%

Pay-per-click placements on search engines

35%
37%

Writing/hosting a blog

24%
n/a

local / outdoor advertising

27%
30%

This study is a duplicate of a previous study conducted by Harris Interactive in 2005 for comparative purposes. Harris Interactive conducted an online study among employees of small law firms (defined as having 20 or fewer attorneys) between August 30 and September 27, 2007. Twenty-eight respondents who are employed by firms with 21-50 attorneys were removed for analytic purposes. All qualified respondents were either solely or partially responsible for the decision-making process of marketing their firms. Sample of current subscribers, past subscribers and non-subscribers was provided by LexisNexis. A total of 908 interviews were completed The survey was approximately 15 minutes in length. Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding, or because "don't know/not sure" responses are not shown.

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