The Star recently ran an expose on dubious claims in personal injury law firm advertising, with particular emphasis on the use of awards. The article, In ‘wild west’ world of lawyers’ ads, personal injury firms make dubious claims, was in reponse to an investigation spurred by a series of complaints about advertising that is false and misleading and therefore not in keeping with The Law Society’s rules of professional conduct. Here is a quick excerpt:
The working group’s report says it is “concerned about the use of awards or honours that do not appear to be credible or have merit, and/or cannot be shown to be made on some transparent or objective criteria. Given these significant concerns, the working group has not ruled out proposing that the use of awards in advertising be banned altogether.
The Law Society’s Advertising and Fee Issues Working Group is in fact actively seeking feedback on these very issues.
So, given the chaotic state of affairs (sorry, I can’t make this pretty), it’s not unlikely that there would be some serious changes to advertising regulations for lawyers, down the road.
Firms that want to avoid having to scramble at the last minute, to salvage the pipeline generated by their marketing program, would do well to proactively consider their options now.
Awards or no awards, here’s what we recommend:
- Reassess your marketing program. Does it articulate what your firm is great at, in a compelling manner? Don’t shy away from this exercise thinking that all personal injury law firms are the same. It’s simply not true. Dig hard and you’ll find the story that needs to be told.
- Go back to the well. Happy clients and referrers are your sales force. Do they know how, where and when to share their experience with others? Have you asked them to do this? Have you provided them with the tools to do it in a way that does your firm justice (pun intended)?
- Examine resources that are currently underutilized. When it comes to marketing, most law firms don’t make the most of their staff. They don’t even realize the extent to which this pool of resources can deliver, if coached and supported through the process.
So, even if The Law Society does take awards out of the lawyer’s marketing plan, there remains much to work with to build a modern and sustainable brand.
Lawyers that start this work now, as a proactive measure, will only make their firms stronger.