It’s time for a little shop talk about the business of divorce and how we lawyers sell ourselves to potential clients.
Believe it or not, there was a time when lawyers were prohibited from advertising their services.
Of course, lawyers being lawyers, successfully argued to the United States Supreme Court in 1977 that their right to advertise falls within the free-speech protections of the First Amendment.
The Floodgates of Hell Open
Cue the floodgates of Hell opening, another Moses parting the Red Sea event.
In the fifty-years that have followed, attorney advertising has gone from non-descriptive newspaper and phonebook ads to a multi-media circus.
If you’re practicing divorce or family law, you’ve got to have a website and continuous social media feed.
The particularly bold family law attorneys have learned how to talk into a camera and do it well!
Now Wins and Losses Are Divorce Lawyer Grades!
The legal system, including divorce and family law, is adversarial by definition and often defined in so-called “wins” and “loses” and there is no other profession that pits its own against one another the way the legal profession does.
It’s a little more nuanced a system than it looks, but the easiest marketing spin for a lawyer is to be the “fighter” and “winner” - so on and so forth.
Open Another Divorce Attorney Nuance - Awards!
But with every divorce attorney saying they’re the greatest of all time, how do you know?
Lawyers have the answer, as always, by getting external validation from so-called reliable and respected sources.
You see theses awards plastered across every website - I call it “badge-envy.”
Like weeds in a garden, an industry of dubious award-givers exists to stoke both lawyers’ vanity and insecurity.
It’s a “pay to play” system where you’re anointed World’s Greatest based on recommendations of your friends and a large advertising check made payable to the award-giver.
Now that crisis has temporarily shuttered divorce attorneys and family law in general, it’s a good time to cut the nonsense and reset the game.
Can We Get Back to the Basics?
I call it getting back to basics.
Prospective divorce clients would be better served if divorce lawyers simply gave a concise mission statement, summarizing who they are, their core beliefs, qualifications, experience, and approach to the practice of family law.
The words “honesty” and “authenticity” come to mind.
Hiring A Divorce Lawyer - Monumental and Personal
Hiring a child custody or divorce lawyer is a monumental and very personal decision.
I always suggest talking to several lawyers and then asking yourself these questions after any interviews:
- Can I relate to this lawyer?
- Does the attorney’s manner of communicating match my own?
- Does the lawyer’s demeanor and approach seem right for my case?
- Is the attorney’s staff professional?
- Are the fees charged by the lawyer in my budget and commensurate with his or her level of experience?
Divorce Lawyer Final Thoughts
Attorney advertising - some descriptive adjectives come to mind - loud and undignified as well as incomplete, manipulative, and potentially misleading are ones being voiced.
Yet prospective clients deserve the right to make an informed decision, so I say let's really inform them of how we as divorce lawyers can help them.
Let's give them mission statements, core beliefs (not advertising statements), real qualifications like board specializations and number of years in practice, prior pertinent legal practice specifics - let's give them who we really are and what we stand for.
At least it's a thought...
Schreier & Housewirth Family Law
1329 College Avenue, Suite 100
Fort Worth TX 76104
Gregory L. Housewirth is a Board-Certified Family Law Specialist practicing in Fort Worth, Texas. With 30 years family law experience, Mr. Housewirth has represented hundreds of clients in divorce, custody, CPS, modification, and grandparent cases. In addition, Mr. Housewirth is a qualified family law mediator and a member of Collaborative Law Texas, a practice group dedicating to promoting collaborative divorce in Texas.