Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Metro OKC Law Firms Prove Slow Starters in Marketing

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Metro OKC Law Firms Prove Slow Starters in Marketing

Article excerpt

Law firms in the Oklahoma City area have become more involved in marketing their services, although the start was slower here than in other parts of the country.

Nationwide law firms are dedicating from 1 percent to 4 percent of their gross revenue to marketing and membership in the National Law Firm Marketing Association, which has grown from 14 to more than 1,000 in the last nine years.

"I don't think there's any question that Oklahoma City is behind in the area of legal marketing," said Bill Warden, managing partner at Linn Helms of Oklahoma City. "But I also don't think it will be long before the resistance to marketing begins to fade and reality sets in."

Marketing is a new concept to many professionals, and the thought that marketing is to be avoided has been deeply ingrained in attorneys, accountants and other professionals, said Marcia Hays, president of PR Plus, a public relations and marketing firm that represents a variety of professionals.

"But in our experience," Hays said, "we've learned that once the professionals learn what marketing really is and they see results, they are sold on the idea."

At least one Oklahoma City law firm _ Crowe Dunlevy _ has hired a full-time marketer. Other law firms have hired outside public relations or marketing companies, and some have assigned a partner of staff member to handle marketing in addition to other duties.

Getting to know the law firm of Crowe Dunlevy was the first hurdle for Barbara Anderson, one of the first full-time legal marketers hired in Oklahoma. Her title is director of client communications.

"It's the biggest challenge in a law firm," she said. "You need to know the law firm. The type of practice determines the type of marketing. You have to know the firm's philosophy."

One of the findings can be that not all members of the law firm are in support of a marketing program.

"Lawyers in general don't like the sales idea," said Anderson. "You have to work with those that want to work. The others who are skeptical will see their successes and come along later. You can't concentrate on those who aren't willing."

A marketing director for a legal firm should develop a program that supports the firm's business plan.

"Not having an accurate picture of the client's expectations will sabotage a relationship," said Hays. "You have to make sure that the expectations of the client are realistic and that they know what they can expect from a public relations firm. …

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