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Monday, June 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Marketing 101

It's amazing how much publicity a mere $1,000 can get you.

I know: $1,000 isn't "mere" to everyone, but go to your favorite search engine and type this: "Matt Willens scholarship."

Those of you having trouble marketing your law practice should learn from this. It's brilliant.

A Chicago lawyer named Matt Willens is offering a $1,000 scholarship to someone who doesn't go to law school.

Willens is a hero to journalists and bloggers throughout the nation for his crusade to prevent one guy from becoming a lawyer.

Read the many stories yourself. A columnist for Forbes cited a "laundry list of accolades" for Willens.

A headline on a TV news site called Willens a "law professor."

He apparently earned the latter description because he teaches one class. See if you can spot the mention of it in the lengthy bio on Willens' website. It's not exactly highlighted.

I'm not being critical. I think it's brilliant marketing, but it's also kind of depressing for us news-reporter types. Where is the follow-up question, which should be: "Uh, Professor Willens, how exactly is paying for a tiny part of the grad school tuition of one guy who probably wasn't interested in law school anyway going to stem the flood of new lawyers who can't find jobs?"

The lesson, sad to say, is that most "reporters" don't ask the right questions - so you have a marketing opportunity if you know how to seize it.

Try to be original and make your statement with as straight a face as possible.

Here are a few ideas:

End global warming: Issue a statement saying your law firm will turn off the power in its office after 5 p.m. to save the world. Make sure your employees are hooked up to the cloud at home (and don't mention that to anyone).

Adopt a child: Find an orphan, buy a futon for him or her to sleep on in the reception area, and put out a press release. Tell reporters the kid will get the best legal education possible by hanging around and fetching coffee. Don't mention the cleaning and sewing the kid does at night.

Offer ice cream: This isn't charitable, but news editors like photo ops. Announce that you're providing ice cream cones with innovative flavors to all new clients. Flavors like ...

Not-Guilty Pleasure.

Cashew Value.

Chocolate Insanity Plea.

Diet Overruled.

Res Ipsa Torte - the dessert that speaks for itself.

They don't have to make sense.

Tell reporters there will be free samples if they stop by.

Law Dog: Adopt the cutest shelter dog you can find and announce that it is a partner in you firm. The new partner will greet clients at the door and offer a sympathetic pair of ears.

This will be national news.

You can assign an associate to assist the new partner.

Foreclosure relief: Buy a house at a foreclosure sale, then announce that to alleviate the housing crisis your firm will conduct its practice in the living room while allowing the former owners to move back into the rest of the place.

Pose for pictures with crying children.

Feature the former owners in your television commercial.

Rebuild the shire: This one won't be easy, but it's well worth the investment.

Find a vacant plot of land and create a copy of a hobbit village as the new home for your law firm. Then create a series of broadcast and Internet ads depicting your lawyers heroically defending clients against dragons and orcs.

Your senior partners must wear robes and carry large staffs, which are handy for disciplining associates. You can explain to judges that you're adopting the British form of courtroom attire.

But don't get carried away. Repeated use of the term "hobbit-forming" could turn clients away.

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