How Much Time Do Attorneys Really Spend On Marketing?

One of the great things about working at FindLaw is that we’re a part of Thomson Reuters. This gives us access to an outstanding amount of information and helps us guide our clients toward data-driven solutions.

It also reveals occasionally fascinating insights into the lives and businesses of lawyers across the country. I wrote about a recent study conducted by Thomson Reuters on another blog last month, but I wanted to revisit the numbers from a FindLaw perspective once again.

Among small law firms, I noticed some standout figures that revealed just how much (or how little) time attorneys are spending on tasks other then the practice of law.

I was shocked to see that attorneys in a “full service” law firm spend 44% of their time managing and marketing the firm. This piqued my interest because most attorneys in a full service law firm are expected to bill around 1,600 hours a year, but with only 56 percent of their time devoted to the practice of law, their required workload would exceed 55 hours a week.

Now maybe you already work more than 40 hours a week, but how many of you would say that’s simply a mathematical requirement and not your own initiative?

Marketing isn’t something you stop doing once you have “enough” clients.
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Regardless, that revelation doesn’t compare to the next one: Attorneys who practice in a “business boutique” firm report spending only 17 percent of their time managing and marketing the firm.

Seventeen percent.

Can this be enough? Does business work really require less marketing and client development? From a certain perspective, yes.

I practiced in a “business boutique” firm for seven years, and I spent a considerable amount of that time attending community events, meetings, fundraisers and other non-billable activities in order to stir up new business. However, the nature of business law in itself is somewhat perpetual. Once you assist an entrepreneur with her company’s organizing documents, she will likely come back to you with leases, contracts, and employment matters.

Still, marketing and client development only accounted for 4 of the 17 percent of time mentioned above.

Frankly, I don’t think that’s enough, even for business boutique firms with strong repeat clients.

Marketing isn’t something you stop doing once you have “enough” clients. Even regular business can become irregular when you least expect it. Think about your best client. They face the same challenges and opportunities of any other business. Their goals could change leading them away from your specialty. An economic downturn could affect their budget. New leadership could inexplicably send them to your competition. These things can just … happen.

A steady, ongoing marketing program can provide some protection from that volatility. But if your firm is really giving this crucial task such a small sliver of your time, it had better count. Make sure you understand the what, why and how much of your marketing by exploring our newest article In-Depth: Attorney Marketing

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