What Not to Say When Marketing Your Law Firm

It’s fall which means the temperatures are changing and you catch that bug that’s going around the office. So you go to the doctor who gives you a once over and after a few minutes comes back with some bad news.

You have rhinorrhea, pharyngitis and cephalgia. He prescribes a mixture of dextromethorphan and phenylephrine that you must start on right away.

Now you’re in panic mode, right? This sounds serious. You call your surgeon friend and tell him the bad news and ask for his advice. Relax, he says, you have a cold. The doctor gave you NyQuil.

A medical degree is a lot like a law degree in that it comes with a wealth of jargon that is important to your profession. But it also means a lot of terms and phrases that clients will not understand. Talk to your clients like they know every complicated legal procedure and they’ll feel like you did in our story about the doctor. When describing yourself or your services, keep in mind that most clients don’t have your formal education.

WATCH FOR THESE PITFALLS
These words and phrases might seem common to you, but if you’re using them in front of a client, be prepared to explain yourself. Better yet, find a way to say it in layman’s terms.

  • Possession orders
  • Arraignment
  • Pro se
  • Decedent
  • Consideration
  • Pursuant to
  • Promulgate
  • Said (as an adjective)
  • -trix (as in: executrix, prosecutrix)

When it comes to their online marketing, especially their websites, lawyers often write biographies and blogs like they’re speaking to other lawyers and not potential clients. Consumers are put off by what they don’t understand. In other words, they want to know about contracts, not considerations. Writing in layman’s terms will win over more prospects than speaking in complex legalese.

Always think about your clients as educated, in other words try not to talk down to them, but with very little understanding of complex legal theory. So maybe next time you want to know about “contributory negligence” ask if they were partially at fault. Or instead of talking about “dissolution of marriage”, speak to your client about their divorce.

It’s also best not to use overly complicated words. Though they may not be legal terms, words like whereas, hereinabove or aforementioned could be simplified in a way that allows clients to understand you better. Remember, you’re speaking to a vulnerable person in their time of need, not a judge.

It’s hard to step back from your legal knowledge and put yourself in the mind of the consumer, but doing so will pay off. Consumers want a lawyer that they can trust and relate to, not one they think sits in an ivory tower. Translating your complex knowledge into easily digestible words and phrases is an important step toward building that trust.

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