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Best Practice Tips: Demonstrating Expertise Through Marketing

Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am a new non-equity partner in a 16-attorney firm in Phoenix, Arizona. My equity partners are telling me that I have to do more than generate billable hours and perform quality work for clients. They now expect me to bring in clients. Where do I start?

A. I often advise attorneys that while what you know is important what you want to be known for is more important. Just having your name known is pretty useless unless it is known for something. For example, it is best to be known as an outstanding personal injury plaintiff lawyer – not just a good lawyer. In law firms it is the reputation for expertise that matters, not just the reputation. Therefore, a successful marketing program must project and demonstrate expertise. This can be accomplished in the following ways:

  1. Byline Articles
  2. Authored Books
  3. Presentations
  4. Client Testimonials on the firm’s website.

While biographies on the website are important prospective clients and referral sources are looking for proof of expertise. Articles, authored books, presentations, and client testimonials provide such proof.
One of the best and reliable ways of providing such proof is the article. In a byline article, you don’t have to say that you are an expert – the fact that you wrote the article, discussing a particular legal topic, says it for you. It’s your expertise on display whether the article be in a print publication or posted on your website, blog, or other location.

An article is one tools that you can you where you have control – you can say what you want to say and say it in your way. In most cases, if an article is acceptable on its own terms, an editor won’t change the thrust of it.

For most legal and business trade journal publications that accept articles you do not have to be a well-known writer to write an article that will be accepted by these publications. You simply have to know what you are talking about. Editors will help with the formatting, style, and syntax.

If you retain the copyright to your article you can re-purpose your article and use it on the firm’s website, reprints, firm brochures, and as a future chapter in your first book.

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John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC, ( is a past chair and member of the ISBA Standing Committee on Law Office Management and Economics and author of The Lawyers Guide to Succession Planning published by the ABA. For more information on law office management please direct questions to the ISBA listserver, which John and other committee members review, or view archived copies of The Bottom Line newsletters. Contact John at

Posted on March 7, 2018 by Sara Anderson
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