Leaving the Loop? Let’s cross that bridge
By Sandra Napoli-D’Arco
Looking for advice on how to grow your solo practice or build your small, midsize or large law firm? Send all legal marketing, business development, strategic planning and firm management questions to Sandra@snap-dmarketing.com. Responses to reader questions will appear anonymously in Ask Snap-D every Wednesday. Sandra Napoli-D’Arco, founder and president of Snap-D Marketing Inc., is a legal marketing and business development consultant. She has led marketing and business development teams and initiatives for firms with national practices.
Dear Snap-D: We are changing office locations from a space on LaSalle Street in the hustle and bustle of the Loop. Rents are high. We are considering moving our offices farther west since we will save a significant amount in rent. In your opinion, does this affect our marketability?
A: That depends on many factors, but most importantly whether or not your clients visit your office. If the answer is yes, the other question you need to ask yourself is how often do your attorneys go to court? A savings in rent may not equate to a bargain if multiple attorneys are cabbing it to court each day. Depending on your practice you may not need to be in the heart of the Loop, and it may be easier for your clients to get to your office if you’re right off the expressway, if parking is easier and less expensive than the Loop. Not being in the Loop doesn’t have to be a negative. There are plenty of reasons why it can be a positive move.
Q: I started my career working at a small firm and then transferred into an in-house position where I have spent the majority of my career. I’m in my late 40s and due to corporate changes, I may be losing my job. I’d like to go back to firm life. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions?
A: You’ll need to ask yourself if you’re mentally ready to go back to an environment that requires you to bill every minute of your time. Many people say that it’s easier to move from the East Coast to the Midwest than the reverse. I say it’s easier to transition from a firm to an in-house position rather than the other way around.
In addition, having a book of business is key to your success at a law firm. If you don’t plan on bringing business and if you are lucky enough to find a job, you’ll want to have clear expectations set between you and your new firm so that you don’t find yourself looking for a position again in a year.
Q: We are a legal organization that depends on membership, which has dropped dramatically over the past several years. How do we get this organization back on its feet?
A: This is a fully loaded question that will require you to sit down with a marketing professional so that they can ask you the proper questions regarding why membership is down and discuss specific strategies to drive up membership.
The long and short of it is that you’ll need to have programs and resources that appeal to lawyers — and that you can’t be all things to all people. Understanding where you came from and where you currently are will allow you to develop a well-targeted plan that will drive membership each year and beyond.
This column originally ran in the March 30, 2016 edition of the Daily Law Bulletin.