Running a criminal law practice requires a special skillset, and marketing it requires a unique strategy.
For starters, there’s the competition, which is fierce and growing fiercer by the day. Then there is the fact that many potential clients are indigent or have financial difficulties, which means getting paid could be a challenge.
What you need is a plan, and a key component of the plan is being available when a prospect calls.
“More than any other legal practice, it’s imperative for a criminal defense firm to have someone answering the phone 24/7,” according to legal marketer Cate Giordano. “If you can’t personally staff this, many services, like Smith.ai, can help you outsource phone intake. Call tracking is vital for capturing leads because it lets you see how many calls are coming in and getting answered. This information can help you determine which marketing channels are most effective in generating leads. Call tracking can help you qualify those leads and decide which ones are most likely to convert into paying clients.”
Another challenge: convincing prospects that private representation will pay off.
“Overcome this by highlighting your experience with the criminal justice system, and include educational content or videos on your website,” Giordano writes.
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Tips for Marketing a Criminal Practice
Following are 9 takeaways from “Criminal Law Defense Practice: Online Marketing” in the National Law Review Journal (all quotes are from Giordano, the article’s author):
1. Create a niche. Focus on specific areas of practice like DUI, white collar crime, juvenile matters, etc.
2. Use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. This will help you track leads, target new business, and stay in touch with clients.
3. Have a great website. It should be accessible and easy to navigate. Include a robust “About Me” page to highlight your experience and credentials in the criminal law field.
4. Publish great content. “You want to have both practice area pages and educational blog content or resources when building your marketing content,” writes Giordano. “Practice area content consists of substantial overviews of specific areas of law. Creating videos, blog posts, and podcasts that discuss legal changes and answers to the most frequently asked questions are just a few examples of how you can relate to your client.”
5. Provide valuable information for free. If you handle traffic tickets, include a web page that explains the various violations and penalties. If you handle felonies, include penal codes and sentencing charts.
6. Leverage your bi-lingual staff. “If you have staff that can speak another language, highlight it!” writes Giordano. “Have the staff person translate your main pages and create a section of your website that helps that demographic. Having bi-lingual staff will help you connect with potential clients who may not speak English as their first language.”
7. Claim your Google My Business profile. It costs nothing, boosts your SEO, and provides an online cornerstone for your practice.
8. List your practice in the leading law directories. Here are the ones to focus on: FindLaw; LegalZoom; Justia; HG.org; Superlawyers.com; Martindale.com; Lawyers.com; Yelp; Facebook.
9. Solicit client and peer reviews. “Focus on reputation management,” says Giordano. “Actively manage your social media accounts, respond to reviews, and monitor what is being said about your firm online.”
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