Occupy Wall Street and Building Your Law Practice

Regardless of how you feel about Occupy Wall Street, you have to give the movement credit for one thing:   the organizers have done a great job of garnering publicity for their cause.  Through a variety of PR devices (including very effective use of social media), Occupy Wall Street (OWS) has managed to capture broad attention over a considerable period of time (i.e. way beyond one  24-hour news cycle).  In a  media saturated world, this is a true accomplishment.

At the same time, you have to wonder what it is that OWS is hoping to accomplish.  While their message is “loud” and “pervasive”, their goals are murky.    Do they want presidents of bailed out banks to receive lower pay?  Full employment for all?  A redistribution of wealth to the 99%?

This dichotomy is very instructive for anyone trying to sell professional services.  Simply put, marketing alone is not enough if you want people to buy.  You need to engage in specific conversations about specific solutions if you want businesses and individuals to retain you.

The lesson for anyone trying to build a law practice is to keep “showing up”.  If you want prospective clients and referral sources to think of you when then have a need, then you need to create a niche and commit to marketing your reputation over a long period of time (through speaking, writing, involvement in trade associations, etc.)

But you also need to engage individual client prospects and referral sources in conversation.  You need to uncover their “needs” and look for way to be helpful and build the relationship.  Until you are able to get prospective clients to articulate a need and a solution that you can provide, you are not selling.  All you are doing is building your visibility.

It is unclear where the OWS movement is headed.  At least for now, it seems to be expanding to more and more cities and it seems unlikely that everyone will pack up and go home any time soon.  At the same time, until the leaders articulate specific objectives and advocate for specific solutions, the movement is destined to go nowhere.

And that is a lesson that many lawyers can put into play in marketing their own services (i.e. let the world know what you do, but don’t forget to make sales calls-you may become well known, but that is no guarantee that you will generate a lot of work).

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