Why do Law Firms have a serious misunderstanding of what branding is and how to do it well? | The Marketing Network
Why do Law Firms have a serious misunderstanding of what branding is and how to do it well?

A joke or reality?

A young lawyer, starting up his private practice, was very anxious to impress potential clients. When he saw the first visitor to his office come through the door, he immediately picked up his phone and spoke into it,” I’m sorry, but my caseload is so tremendous that I’m not going to be able to look into your problem for at least a month. I’ll have to get back to you then.” He then turned to the man who had just walked in, and said, “Now, what can I do for you?” “Nothing,” replied the man. “I’m here to hook up your phone.”

Q: What’s wrong with Lawyer jokes?

A: Lawyers don’t think they’re funny, and nobody else thinks they’re jokes.

At the risk of pissing off the very people who can test our Professional Indemnity insurance cover limits, we decided to examine the web sites of the top Australian law firms as well as look at their public relations communication in the business press. What became blatantly obvious was that there is a serious misunderstanding of what branding is and how to do it well, especially amongst the Tier 1 law firms.

Perception is Reality! And the reality is that:

The following quote is from Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon’s incredibly passionate speech to Australian Women Lawyers’ Conference – 29th September 2006, titled – The People Vs Lawyers: The Case For An Ethical (and Influential) Profession. Ms. Roxon was an industrial lawyer and senior associate with the law firm Maurice Blackburn and a judge’s associate to High Court. She is now Australia’s Attorney-General

“…public do not have a warm and loving feeling about lawyers. To say, in political spin, you have a “PR issue” is an understatement. So who are the non-lawyers or the good lawyers these days? Reflecting back through the centuries, lawyers seem to have always been disliked – for their fees, their ability to argue their client’s case (and therefore be seen to believe in nothing) and their skill in employing technicalities to wriggle around truth or responsibility. On the other hand, if ever in trouble, everyone wants one in their corner.”

If you take a look at the web sites of the “leading” commercial law firms in Australia, you would be forgiven for thinking that the Law Institute had issued “good website guidelines” and all the major firms followed along like lemmings.

In terms of their branding – that is a defined point of difference – it is almost impossible to tell what benefits one firm offers over another.

All firms have lots of smart people, do some pro-bono work and have won awards. But what makes you tick? Who are you? How can you help me sue someone’s pants off or protect myself from same? Why would I use you instead of the other 8 glass-tower, high priced legal eagle guns for hire in town?  At least when watching Boston Legal, one knew that Crane Pool & Schmidt represent only the most weird and wonderful.

Interestingly, the personal injury “fight for the battler” type firms seem to have a better grasp on their branding (differentiation) and speak to an audience (as opposed to an enterprise) than the “corporate” firms do. Almost without exception, the commercial firms have dull messages that are all about them, and provide no compelling reason why a client should choose them over their competitors.

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