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How much do attorneys / law firms spend on advertising every month?
July 17, 2013 3:05 AM   Subscribe

I know this question is rather vague since the size of the law firms may be different, and localities affect advertising rates. But in your experience, how much do law firms / attorneys spend on advertising every month?
posted by Roki to Law & Government (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Anywhere from zero to hundreds of millions per year. You need to clarify the area of law, firm size, and location to get anything approaching a sensible answer. What exactly are you trying to determine? As it stands, this is sort of like asking how much do most rocks weight.
posted by ryanrs at 4:07 AM on July 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


I think you also need to approach this from the "what type of law is practiced by firms that spend quite a bit on advertising" point-of-view.

For instance, the personal injury guys who are pushing themselves during the local news at 6pm and are on the back of your phonebook are likely spending way more than the maritime law guy.
posted by kuanes at 4:30 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


You also need to qualify what you consider advertising, and where you are. Do you consider websites advertising? Because where I live, the Law Society heavily regulates the advertising they permit (basically: none) so my legal clients primarily spend on web development and AdWords for those sites.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:44 AM on July 17, 2013


Do you consider client alerts advertising? There's little cost to the actual distribution (email lists) but the cost to produce in billable hours is often significant. The last time I was involved in a client alert, it was at least 20 hours of associate time (say $400/hour) and 10 hours of partner time (among different partners, say $700-800 per hour average).

You need to focus your question to get any kind of real answer. I'm assuming you're aware that local bar associations mandate ethical rules that can affect the ability of firms to advertise, so you'd also need to specify jurisdictions you're interested in. Based on your other question, I'm assuming you're interested in U.S. firms.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:03 AM on July 17, 2013


I'm familiar with a small firm in NYC that seeks plaintiffs. They spend about $20,000 per year on marketing.
posted by michaelh at 5:05 AM on July 17, 2013


Another vote that this is basically impossible to answer without specifying firm size, practice area, and locality/market. And then also what will be counted as "advertising." Any expenditures with a promotional aspect? Activity chiefly directed towards business development? Only ad buys?

Also note that part of firm marketing is the prominence of the individual attorneys there, not just the firm. So is attorney participation in various practice associations (e.g. speaking at a conference), or participating in relevant community facing issue-based organizations "advertising?"

Finally, different jurisdictions (i.e. state bar associations) have different rules about promotion of a practice or firm and solicitation of clients, which include what is considered advertising and what is permitted under what circumstances.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:26 AM on July 17, 2013


Thanks for your answers so far. To add more context to my question, this is for a Website with a directory of lawyers for a niche segment of attorneys, this would be for all local markets in the US nationwide. I'd like to make it so that attorneys or firms would be able to make monthly payments so that their listing would be featured and show up at the top of search results.
posted by Roki at 5:39 AM on July 17, 2013


What kind of clients are we talking about? Most firms that do actual ad buys are aiming at the retail market, i.e., criminal defense, family law, bodily injury, elder law, etc. I would say that the vast majority of money spent by law firms on ad buys is focused on that market.

But if we're looking at marketing in general, it might not even be a plurality. I can only imagine the kind of schmoozing that goes on to land a client from a Fortune 100 company. Even at my old firm, which was sort of a litigation boutique in a very minor legal market, one of the partners spent about $20k a year on a country club membership that his family barely used just so that he could take his main client golfing. These sorts of firms almost never actually buy ad space. They're the kind of firm that if you first learn about them through advertising, you don't need and/or can't afford their services anyway.

Here's a point of comparison though: I'm an attorney, and I'm familiar with several different attorney advertising websites. Most of them have a minimum spend of around $100 a month. In a minor market, that'll get you a featured listing in multiple practice areas. In a major one, it wouldn't even get a single featured listing. But even in the minor markets, those listings can get you a few clients a month, representing potentially several thousand dollars of revenue. The value proposition is pretty clear. I don't know what sort of website you're talking about, but the price you're going to be able to command really does depend on the kind of results you're going to be able to produce. You may have to start out really cheap to prove the value of your product.
posted by valkyryn at 5:57 AM on July 17, 2013


The value proposition is pretty clear. I don't know what sort of website you're talking about, but the price you're going to be able to command really does depend on the kind of results you're going to be able to produce. You may have to start out really cheap to prove the value of your product.

Indeed. And it's hard to get there from here, so to speak, especially since this is pretty well-trod ground that even the big players are having trouble making any money at these days. At least when it comes to simple listings services without some other novel features or value-add. Plus you are likely to find that there are already national/regional/local associations with trade publications or newsletters (depending on size and scope) for any given area of practice that would find this practical and productive. As this concept predates the Internet.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:15 AM on July 17, 2013


And it's also worth mentioning that attorney referral services, if whatever you assemble meets the definition, may be regulated by the state bar.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:18 AM on July 17, 2013


I'd like to make it so that attorneys or firms would be able to make monthly payments so that their listing would be featured and show up at the top of search results.

My answer is pretty meaningless then (it was anyway.) You probably couldn't squeeze even $50/mo out of them for that unless it became a go-to place for people in a bad way in their particular area of expertise. Don't go the percentage-of-budget route, go the "you pay $300 to acquire a client now, but we can get you clients for $200" or "you're tapping out your leads but want to grow, and we can get you x many quality referrals that don't see your other marketing."
posted by michaelh at 8:11 AM on July 17, 2013


FWIW, I am a patent attorney in the Pacific Northwet. I regularly get spam from Yet Another Legal Referral Website that wants me to sign up. (Usually, "FREE! Be Listed in Our Awesome Directory!") I think Avvo was an early entrant to that market, and a lot of people have profiles there. I even used their paid service briefly, but didn't see any results from it.

I don't spend any money on advertising at the moment, and I delete come-ons for new attorney referral websites instantly. I doubt that there's much of a business there for a new entrant, unless you have an unusually good way to reach potential customers of your niche segment. (If you were trying to sell the service to me, that's what you'd have to convince me of.)
posted by spacewrench at 10:52 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know that this is a hard sell and bad for your potential clients, right? Since the Penguin update, lower quality links from directory websites not do not improve organic ranking, they actually result in heavy penalties.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:48 PM on July 17, 2013


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