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Proactive Marketing of Law Firms Should Fill the Gaps in a Referral-Based Practice
A business based on referrals often mirrors your current client base. To expand your practice and your fee structure you may find real value in creating or updating your marketing plan.
If your firm is relatively well-known and you and your partners are getting a regular flow of referred work, why bother with a marketing plan? In fact, why should you spend substantial time and funds to create and manage, among other things, a Web site, seminars, speeches, client appreciation events and newsletters?
What value is a marketing plan and program if you do good work and your clients keep sending you more?
In short, the answer is that proactive marketing gives lawyers and firms a choice of file and fee.
In most cases, when you get a referral the potential client has already discussed with the referring party your firm’s fee structure. This limits your ability to increase fees based on your growing expertise.
Referrals also involve receiving work much like that you have done (well) before. So, if you want to change the industries in which you practice, or enter new areas of law, as a firm or individually, your referral base likely cannot help you make the shift. More of the same types of work, year-after-year, may translate into a practice lacking intellectual challenge.
To identify new industries, new areas of the law and to maximize fees, you need a written marketing plan and a mechanism to ensure execution. Absent either, your work will gradually become less stimulating and your fee growth lag. 
- Bob Weiss is president of Alyn-Weiss and Associates, Inc., a Denver-based marketing consulting group which has worked with both corporate, transactional and defense firms and contingent fee practices nationwide for more than 20 years.
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