Leo Tolstoy On Legal Marketing

Jeff Berman
August 11, 2010

Leo TolstoyI've been reading The Big Short by Michael Lewis (great book by the way).  At the very beginning of the book, before the story even starts, Mr. Lewis has a quote from Leo Tolstoy that encompasses many of the themes you are about to encounter.

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.

What struck me about the quote was the relevancy it has for lawyers and the various attitudes towards online marketing.

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already

The attorney that has an open mind about the possibilities and strategies available tends to see the best results.  There is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing a firm online.  There are strategies that work well for a particular firm, individual, and practice area but not so much for another.  

Those lawyers that are open to new ideas, new tools, new communities, and new platforms will thrive.  Online marketing should be an extension of your offline reputation and persona.  In the end, the best online marketing is about relationship building and growing out your network and connections.  In our own consulting business, the lawyers that come to us wanting to try new ideas and are open to learning different approaches to generating clients online are the ones who have the most success.

but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.

The biggest roadblock to success are attorneys with a minimal understanding of online marketing but complete confidence about what they need to do for success.  

I speak with attorneys that assure me they don't need to blog.  Others that tell me they don't need to add content to their website.  They don't need to cultivate relationships and put the time into developing their online reputation.  What they need is for me to get them ranked #1 for a random keyword phrase they pulled out of their hat.

As the quote above so eloquently points out, it's difficult to convince someone with a closed mind of the possibilities that lay before them. 

Jeff Berman
Jeff Berman, is co-founder of AttorneySync. "Properly marketing a law firm online is about producing relevant content that helps a prospective client understand your expertise and how you are able to help them. Finally, it’s about getting that content found by the people you are trying to help."
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13 years ago

I agree with this article. In more than 8 years of working in the legal field (paralegal), it is amazing how rampant the "we are doing it this way because we've always done it this way" attitude is, even with young, up and coming attorneys. And they miss out on so much opportunity because of it.
In fact, one firm I worked for that does television marketing really doesn't get it. Their advertising speaks to a completely different market than the one they serve. Yet, they continue to pour money into the spots. Maybe they need to get out of their bubbles a little and see what other professions are doing that works.

13 years ago

Great post. Learning to learn from and trust others is a big step. I often describe it in business as knowing the difference between an investment and an expense, and how you know and explain it tells a lot.

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