If you feel uncomfortable and unconfident marketing your law firm or yourself, you are not alone. Many professionals feel that it is unseemly to advertise, even though it is ethically permitted under the Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct, as long as it is neither misleading nor false. See ORPC 7.1 (Communication Concerning a Lawyer’s Services); 7.2 (Advertising); and 7.3 (Solicitation of Clients).
The directive to refrain from making untrue or misleading statements about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services is well-known:
ORPC 7.1 Communication Concerning a Lawyer’s Services states, “A lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer's services. A communication is false or misleading if it contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading.”
Years ago, I was a marketing director of a mid-sized savings and loan association in California. To financial institutions of yesteryear, marketing beyond building signage or a sponsorship of a Little League team was an abhorrent indication of unprofessionalism. As a young 26-year-old professional, I had to proceed in this new terrain with cautious enthusiasm. I asked myself a safe question: What is our true benefit to our savings and loan customers? My answer became our mission statement, customer service commitment, and advertising tagline: “We make dreams affordable.” Catchy, isn’t it?
Now, what is yours?
First, know that people can only bring you their problems and concerns if they know where to find you. Your marketing efforts are a great kindness to them in their hour of need; your help provides a true benefit to them. Think about it.
For adoption clients, you help them to bring a child to love into their life.
For bankruptcy clients, you help them to find a way out of their insurmountable debts.
For business clients, you help them to launch their new business, or help grow an existing one.
For contractor clients, you help them to negotiate real estate construction projects.
For divorce clients, you help them to exit marriages without creating unnecessary distress.
For estate planning and elder law clients, you help them to take care of their family after they die. Blunt but true.
For immigration clients, you help them to navigate the confusing road to becoming a U.S. citizen, to find work in this country, or to keep their family together.