trees in autumn

As lawyers, we work hard at the office. At the end of the day, some of us go home to our personal lives, with little or no further involvement in the communities around us. Others, however, remain passionately involved in community and professional organizations and events.Those of us in the first group are missing a great opportunity to market ourselves and our firm, but also even better opportunities for life-long professional and personal fulfillment...

As a basic proposition in the marketing of legal services,one of the most important marketing assets for most law firms is the visibility of their partners, both collectively and individually, in their communities and in business and professional organizations. However, this means more than just joining and occasionally showing up at meetings. In our firm's experience and observations, advising law firms about how to improve their marketing strategies, tactics, and skills, we have observed that the lawyers who get the best return on their investment in community and professional activies are those who actively lead, participate, and contribute. It is no exaggeration that, even in the largest and best-established professional associations and community organizations, there is always room and important work for one more person. Any time that you can contribute, however little, can make a difference.

But there is more to it than prowling these groups looking for new clients. I believe that if you participate in professional and community activities only for possible financial benefits, you eventually will be disappointed. By far, the bigger and more important return on investment is the personal growth and satisfaction that these activities offer to any lawyer. You don't need an extroverted personality preference or to be a "joiner." The satisfaction for you, and the benefit to others, derives from doing whatever you do best. Be yourself.

My friend and IBA colleague, Abe Schear, of the Atlanta-based firm of Arnold Golden Gregory, recently said it all so well that, with his permission, I quote his wise words without further comment or embellishment:

"...[T]he point is one taught to me years ago by one of my former law partners, which is that people cannot guess where passion lies or what you are up to if they are not told. This advice was at a time after I had traveled to Israel perhaps six times for business and had little, if anything (other than some great friendships), to show for the business initiative. He told me to talk about it, to make it part of who I am, to make my travel a part of who I am.

This lesson is important to all of us and likely even more so in today's Twitter environment. If you are part of the fabric of a community, it is reason for conversation. There is a big difference between bragging and being proudly involved, one which surely will open more doors and opportunities.

...[I]f one is involved in a group or organization, it is much more interesting once the move is made from spectator to participant. While it is easy to over-volunteer, that is still more useful than being under-involved. Groups are communities and reflect who we are and these friends and acquaintances can make the larger community and the world a bit smaller and warmer. And this can make each of us more interesting to others - and equally, to ourselves."


Norman Clark