Practice Management


Practice Management:

Here's how lawyers are using no-cost marketing these days

OSBA Staff
Columbus, OH

We asked OSBA members, “What is your go-to marketing tool?” Based on the responses, most of the tools don’t come with a price tag. 

Word of mouth 
Almost all the respondents said they had this gem in their marketing toolbox: word of mouth. Karen Ireland-Phillips of Cleveland said, “Almost all my clients were referrals from former clients, or former clients with new issues.” Hillsboro attorney Kathryn Hapner had a similar response: “I have found that most of our clients are repeat clients, friends or relative of clients or referrals from former or current clients.” “In a small-town environment where I practice the best marketing is providing quality affordable service which gets spread by word of mouth,” said Tom Guillozet of Versailles. 

Instead of spending money on buying ads, invest in your website instead. Tom Guillozet said, “For years our firm advertised in the yellow pages with a large ad because “it was the thing to do” … [but] we are discontinuing the ad. We’re going to invest the monies which would have been spent on the ad on enhancing our web site.” When consumers need an attorney, many of them use Google to search for one. This search could lead directly to your website. Stan Dub, an attorney in Cleveland, advises lawyers to “create a website that explains to clients why you are the answer to their needs.” 

Become a known expert in your practice area 
Steve Magas, a bike lawyer in Cincinnati, calls his strategy mini-marketing. “My marketing has been developing over the past 30 years by becoming known in my niche and developing the ‘bike lawyer’ persona/brand. I have written many magazine articles and had a regular column, Bike Law 101, with local, state and national publications. I stay active in bicycle related groups and sit on the Board of the Ohio Bicycle Federation, acting as the legal arm in drafting and pursuing bike-friendly statutes and amendments to the traffic law. I also comment on online articles of interest to my niche on my blog, Twitter feed or Facebook page. Not one of those blurbs say, ‘Hire me because....’ Instead, they show my interest in the niche, and my ability to stay on top of trends of interest to those in the niche, making them more likely to hire me.” 

Develop a niche 
When Cleveland attorney Stan Dub started his own practice, he recognized he needed to have a niche, because clients would tend to favor bigger firms for business transactions and estate planning. “I decided to focus my practice on franchise law matters, which I saw as an underpopulated specialty, at least in Ohio. I developed my expert credentials, including teaching a course on franchise law as an adjunct at CWRU Law School. Over time my practice has grown nicely.”

Provide quality affordable service 
This one basically goes without saying, but it’s the easiest way to get and keep clients: Provide quality affordable service, so your clients do not need to find another lawyer. Kathryn Hapner says that “Providing good service at a reasonable rate has been the best marketing tool for us. It has worked for us since 1958.” Bradley N. Frick agrees. “All the internet in the world won’t buy you long-term success if you don’t do good work, manage client expectations and communicate better than your competitors (which is not hard to do).” 

Join the discussion on the OSBA Member Communities at