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Marketing and branding, and why they’re important to the legal industry.
By Olivia Kung
For most businesses across different sectors, especially those involved in the production of goods, marketing and creativity are considered a must. But these two functions can become challenging for businesses in the service sector, particularly for the legal industry.
In the legal space, there are many reasons why law firms often choose not to market. Some legal practitioners take the view that marketing is an expensive exercise, and it takes too long to build up a brand. Some take the view that it is difficult to assess or quantify the effect and impact of marketing. Others feel that the legal industry is a conservative profession and should rely purely on word of mouth.
There are also quite a few restrictions imposed by the Law Society of Hong Kong on marketing, including one that prohibits law firms from claiming that the practice is an expert in any field, or in general. In order to avoid getting into any potential trouble, some legal practitioners choose to avoid marketing completely.
Finally, many of Hong Kong’s law firms are SMEs themselves, and feel that they don’t have the time to engage in marketing. But as the Co-founding Partner of an SME law firm and having practiced law in both the U.K. and Hong Kong, I think it’s worth it. Here are some tips that I have found useful:
- Branding is the key to success: More than just a logo, branding is a package which encompasses the décor of the office, website design, online and offline marketing materials, and even the culture of the firm. Every step from deciding on the brand color, to the style of posts on online platforms, needs to consistently convey the same business values.
- Think out of the box: For marketing purposes, following the crowd is perhaps the easiest and safest bet, but the impact is likely to be minimal. It is important to be alert to market sentiment and current events and choose the direction of your marketing accordingly.
- Your website is a display window: A company website has become a basic requirement for businesses, and law firms should not be an exception. A website allows viewers to gain a better understanding of the firm and the services they offer.
- For lots of people, that may be the first contact they have with the firm, and the first impression that it gives them will be vital for any future interaction.
- Using social media: This is a good way to communicate with existing or potential clients. Factors like what to write in a post and how often to post need to be carefully considered, as they can attract or deter viewers.
I realized the value of marketing when sitting with my co-founders and trying to name our law firm. Rather than follow the crowd and use the founding partners’ surnames to form the name of the law firm, we chose one of our founding partners’ first name and added the world ‘Legal’ to form the name of our firm instead. We believe the name of the business is important for marketing purposes, and we are glad that we made this decision, having received lots of positive comments on the name of our firm.
The common adage, “If you never try, you’ll never know,” is appropriate here. Legal marketing may not be as straightforward as marketing in other sectors, as law firms are subject to marketing restrictions. However, there are still lots of ways to do legal marketing that comply with the regulations as well as achieve the desired results.
It may take more time and thought to build up, but in the long run, I believe it is both beneficial and worthwhile to business.
About the Author
Olivia is a Co-founding Partner of Wellington Legal. She is an experienced litigation solicitor who has worked in the U.K. and Hong Kong. Olivia is a Fellow member of Hong Kong Institute of Arbitrators and appointed as an Arbitrator of Guangzhou Arbitration Commission. She is also a contributing editor of LexisNexis Advance Practical Guidance. Since 2018, she has been an Adjunct Professor of Beijing Normal University and is the current Chair of Women Business Lawyers Committee of Inter Pacific Bar Association.