Marketing a law practice is not entirely unlike riding a horse. You make decisions every day, based on your market, your practice goals, your strengths, weaknesses, and even your own “vision” for the type of practice you desire. Because all of these factors impact your marketing, there is no “one size fits all” for a law practice – or a horse.
Consider my (disastrous) Monday trail ride. After several days of cold drizzle, the sun came out warm and bright on Monday afternoon, so my husband, David, and I headed out for a late-season trail ride.
David rides a little tank of a horse that we affectionately refer to as The Rock. Rocky is one of those stocky little horses who just never gets flustered about anything, has a great work ethic, and can tackle any type of terrain. I, on the other hand, ride an off-the-track thoroughbred named Cooper. An ex-racer, Cooper is tall and lanky and built for speed across wide-open spaces. We do not refer to Cooper as The Rock. Our affectionate term for Cooper is “Super Coop.” (Our less affectionate terms cannot be printed here!)
David rides Rocky in a great big Australian saddle, with a Western-style bit and bridle. I ride Cooper in a tiny, lightweight saddle, with an English-style bit and bridle. When we ride in the arena, Cooper outshines everyone. He has a beautiful extended trot and a lovely, floating canter. He positively sails over fences, knees tucked cleanly underneath. He can turn or stop on a dime and give you back a nickel’s change. He is tall, dark and handsome. A real looker.
Rocky, on the other hand, is a bit of a plodder. He is short and stout. His trot will rattle your teeth right out of your head. And he thinks the easiest way around a fence is … well … around it, not over!
Monday, David and I set out together on our respective horses – David riding the little tank, and I astride the racehorse. Cooper took the lead across the open field, with Rocky plodding happily behind. We ducked out of the field and onto the timbered trail, Cooper still leading. We picked our way down a steep, rocky ravine and across a running stream. Neither horse missed a beat.
Then all heaven broke loose. We had to climb up the ravine, scoot across a rock ledge, then tackle what passes for a small mountain here in Kansas – replete with wet slippery leaves atop a slurping muddy base. Cooper hesitated. He climbed. He slipped. He skidded. He gathered his long legs up underneath him and tried to hop his way out of the mess. It was at this point that he and I parted company. He hopped, I became unseated, and landed face-first in the dirt.
Meanwhile, Rocky plodded. One foot in front of the other. Slowly, carefully, and without incident, he marched up the hill with David safely astride.
To make a very long story just a little bit shorter, suffice to say that I fell off of Cooper three times that afternoon, before we hobbled safely back to the barn … me walking beside, leading him by the reins, having lost both saddle and pad somewhere along the way.
If you were to describe your law practice, would it be more like Rocky … or Cooper? Is your practice sort of a steady little steam engine, chugging reliably along a solid track? Or is it like Cooper – full of excitement , built for speed, and ready to run?
Neither type of horse – or law practice – is inherently better or worse than the other. But each one has its own set of strengths … and weaknesses. Each one is better suited for a specific environment (or market), and each should be developed, and marketed, differently.
If you are struggling with your law practice, you may need to consider a different approach. What worked for a colleague simply may not work for you. Cooper and Rocky are best buddies out in the pasture, and they are both truly marvelous horses. However, Rocky would experience nothing but repeated failures if match-raced against Cooper. No matter how many cute little English saddles we put on his back, he will never jump as high or run as fast as long-legged Cooper. But he can march up a hill, swim across a river, plow through the brush and carry you safely home.
We’re nearing the end of the year. Now is a good time to assess your law practice, re-evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, and make a plan for success. Just make sure your plan is one that will work for your practice, whether it’s a sleek race horse or a little tank.