Show, don’t tell, is the central rule of story-telling. And yet so many lawyers feel that the best marketing comes from telling their clients and other lawyers how great they are, rather than proving it. But there are so many ways to let people know the truth: that you have something unique to bring to the practice of law. And you show that truth by being helpful to others.
Take speaking at a CLE. You might regard yourself as an expert in some field or other, but other lawyers don’t have a way of knowing that’s true until you bring to bear some of the central skills of good lawyering—breaking down complicated concepts so busy people can better understand them. Of course, this isn’t just beneficial for the people in the room. Known experts get asked for advice. And if the advice is good enough, and you make the process easy, experts also tend to get referrals. A good lawyer loves the feeling of leaving a client in good hands.
And there are plenty of smart young examples to follow. Take Sonia Lakhany, who built a national reputation for her expertise in intellectual property. Part of that, of course, was excellent lawyering. But she also set up an online course to teach other lawyers what they needed to know to set up their own IP practices. She built the courses she wished she had when she started practicing. And in so doing, she became the sort of teacher that other lawyers seek out.
From a tool meant to help others has come a windfall. Lawyers sing her praises. They benefit from her work. But they also send her referrals.
Similarly, Megan Zavieh took her practice area: representing lawyers from Georgia and California facing disciplinary action, and turned it into a learning tool, her podcast, Lawyers Gone Ethical. The podcast teaches lawyers how to avoid common ethical pitfalls and how to apply hidebound rules from the punchcard computer era to the modern world. A lot of busy lawyers love learning this stuff, but don’t necessarily have the time to scrape together the sort of unified understand that Zavieh brings.
By leveraging her expertise to help other practitioners, Zavieh has built a practice that thrives on both coasts.
Finally, Andrew Fleischman has both an excellent twitter following and a growing name in the criminal defense world. By writing about issues facing appellate practitioners, often with the hashtag #appellatetwitter (as seen on mugs, robes, and gavels coast to coast), Fleischman has found an audience of judges and accomplished practitioners who share both knowledge and referrals.
In short, you become the sort of lawyer other lawyers want to know when you find ways to help them succeed. As Dickens once wrote, “[n]o one is useless in the world who lightens the burdens of others.” Be of use, and you’ll swiftly be found.
Erin Gerstenzang founded EHG Law Firm, which is located in Atlanta, Georgia. She provides client-centered legal services to clients facing drug and alcohol-related criminal offenses, and subscription legal services to new hemp businesses in Georgia.
She was honored by Fastcase 50 in 2018 and recognized by the ABA’s Legal Technology Resource Center as one of the honorees of the Women in Legal Tech 2019. She is on the ABA TECHSHOW Planning Board and she co-founded AtlantaLegalTech.com.
She serves on the board of the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers Foundation, and she was a recipient of their GAWL Visionary Award in 2019. She chairs the Judicial Recommendation Committee of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and is on their long-range planning committee and was the recipient of the President’s Award in January 2020. She also serves on the State Bar of Georgia’s Disciplinary Rules and Procedures Committee.