attorney business tips legal interview

With so much competition in the legal space, one of the biggest challenges solo and small firm attorneys face is standing out among the slew of competitors.

From national law firms to their solo and small firm counterpoints, what can attorneys do to set themselves apart from the pack? Furthermore, what day-to-day business decisions do you make that determine the success of your law firm?

In the latest installment of our legal interview series, we sat down with attorney Doug Newborn (Doug Newborn Law Firm, PLLC) to gather his thoughts, tips, and tricks on effective legal marketing strategies, the best decisions he’s made for his firm, and the biggest mistakes he’s made as a solo practitioner.

Can you describe your firm?

Our practice areas include Bankruptcy, Probate, Estates and Trusts, Business, Real Estate, and Personal Injury. Our clients come in all “shapes and sizes” so to speak, and we don’t specifically target or market to any subgroup.

Why did you decide to produce a video for your firm? What problem/challenge were you looking to solve or improve?

I first learned of a brand video while I was an associate at another firm and was sold on the idea in an effort to get the phone to ring more. After I left the firm and started my own, I knew this was one of the first steps I needed to make to improve my chances of success.

There are a number of legal video companies out there, why did you choose to produce your video(s) with Crisp Video Group?

Michael Mogill, the CEO of Crisp, invested his time capital doing free webcasts and webinars. This postured him as an expert, and after I saw the quality of Crisp’s product, I was sold.

Approximately how many cases do you currently take?

My monthly case volume is currently around 10 new cases per month.

How do you compare in terms of size/market share/resources/marketing budget with your competition?

I imagine I spend more on advertising/marketing than other solos because several of them ask me questions about how I’ve been able to do so well.

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What concerns/hesitations did you have leading up to the decision to invest in video marketing? Did you have any doubts about making the right choice?

The cost. At first I had reservations about the expense, but after I started meeting more members of the Crisp Video team, I got excited about the whole process. Then, the shoot itself put any reservations I had aside because I knew this was a serious step in the right direction.

Of the various marketing investments you’ve made in your firm, what hasn’t worked?

Paying to get put on various law firm directories. From the data they showed, I got calls, but none of them turned into paying clients.

What is the best decision you’ve ever made for your firm?

First, starting my own firm. Second would be hiring an assistant.

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Do you believe investing in video for your firm was the right thing to do?

Without a doubt.

What advice would you give to attorneys struggling to differentiate themselves and grow their legal practice?

Don’t be afraid to advertise and market. The initial expense is scary at first, and there are companies out there who will take advantage of you, but if you choose the right one they are worth their weight in gold. 

“If you market, they will come.”

What would you say to an attorney who believes that professional video marketing is “too expensive” or is doubtful of the value/impact it would have for their firm?

The video will make the money back for you within the first 2-3 months at most; after that it’s money in the bank. If the majority of people find you through the internet, this is a must because it will increase conversion.

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Do you believe the “why” (why you do what you do) is more important than the “what” when it comes to growing and marketing your firm?

Yes, and I seem to remember hearing this in Start With Why by Simon Sinek. Great book. You have to have a “why.”

If the only thing differentiating you from all the other firms is a fancier website or the color of your tie, why would anyone choose you over someone else?

Don’t leave it up to chance.

What is the best part of heading your own law firm? What’s the worst part?

The best part of owning my firm is that I call the shots and I have the freedom to leave if I have to and not check out with anyone.

The worst part is that it’s a tremendous amount of responsibility and it’s a huge leap of faith.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face on a day-to-day basis?

Not enough time to handle all the administrative work as quickly as I would like to. Figuring out which practice areas are the most profitable and figuring out how to get more clients in those areas. Responding to all of my clients quickly.

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What piece of advice do you wish you would have been given when you first started your law firm?

Have a mentor in each practice area ready and willing to answer your questions.

What do you see as the future of legal marketing? (e.g. how will attorneys have to invest in their firm to compete/attract clients/cases)

For transactional work, I see it becoming more automated in that people will fill out information online and get their documents immediately.