Your Solo Law Practice Can Compete Against Big Budget Law Firms

JDBlogger Solo Lawyer

By Luke Ciciliano, Esq.

I regularly speak with solo and mid-sized firms who feel they won’t be able to compete against those who have large marketing budgets.

This concern is more than understandable. It is, after all, intimidating to think that you’re competing for the same client base as someone who has a huge website, pay-per-click marketing, billboards, radio ads, television spots, their name on the Goodyear blimp, etc.

The truth of the matter, however, is that the size of a law firm’s marketing budget has little to do with how successful the attorney will actually be. If you focus on an investment-based approach, and go about it the right way, then you’ll be the one who winds up looking like this:

Solo Law Firm Marketing JDBlogger

While your competitors, who spent their huge budget, wind up looking like this:


I’m assuming you would rather look like the former. Let’s take a look at why lawyers forking out those huge budgets are making a mistake and how you can take a better path.

Where a law firm puts their marketing budget is far more important than the amount of money being expended

Attorneys often look at the raw size of a firm’s marketing budget. The important thing, however, isn’t the number of dollars put into promotion – it’s where those dollars go. Let’s look at the difference between spending on third-party advertising and investing in one’s own marketing assets.

The difference between spending and investing is simple. An attorney “spends” when they rent ad space from third parties. Examples of this include renting space in Google’s “sponsored” section in the form of pay-per-click marketing, renting directory listings, or any other way in which one’s name is placed on someone else’s real estate.

“Investing,” by contrast, occurs when an attorney puts their money into something which they control and which cannot be taken away from them. Examples of this include a blog post which the attorney writes or pays someone to write as well as a video which the attorney pays to have produced. Now let’s take a look at the advantages of investing rather than spending.

Let’s say an attorney spends $1,000 this month on pay-per-click or any other third-party advertising. Now say that advertising brings in $10,000 in revenue. That attorney more often than not is going to think they’ve ‘a struck gold! The problem they don’t recognize though is that the $1,000 is gone and will never generate anything beyond the $10,000. They have to spend another $1,000 the next month to bring in more revenue.

Those lawyers have then locked themselves into recurring overhead and a reduced profit margin. Such attorneys are going to wonder why they can never “get ahead” and often won’t realize it’s because of the recurring expenses they’ve locked themselves into. This approach leaves the law firm owner stressed out at the end of every month just like this guy:


An attorney who invests won’t look like that poor guy.

The idea of investment is simple; as stated above, investment is putting your money into something that you own and control.

This is something we highly preach as part of our attorney website design and SEO services. Examples of this include a blog post, which is written once, and brings in traffic for many ‘a moon thereafter.

Other examples include videos which are regularly viewed over time. The benefit of these assets is simple; you pay for them once and they’re the gift that keeps on ‘a givin’.

As an example, a post which we wrote for a client two years ago has received 553 clicks to date. She paid us $125 for that post. This means that, to date, she has paid roughly 23 cents per click (553 clicks/$125). Equally important is the fact that the post is still doing extremely well in organic search and will continue to bring clicks in the future without any additional cash outlay from our client.

This yields the attorney a much higher profit margin, and a healthier bottom line, at the end of the day.

Why am I talking about the difference between spending and investing? Simple – firms with huge marketing budgets tend to focus on spending rather than investing. This makes competing with “big budget” firms easy.

Law firms with large marketing budgets err by spending rather than investing

Again, attorneys often worry about competing with firms who have large marketing budgets. The truth of the matter, however, is that those firms are forced to expend large amounts of money because they are focusing on spending.

Instead of worrying about how one is going to compete against those firms they should be happy they’re not taking such an approach.

Why do those firms set aside so much money for advertising? Because pay-per-click, radio, television, and directory listings are extremely expensive. Yet these firms typically have no assets which are going to provide them a continuous return, such as the blog post I mentioned above which we wrote for our client.

This is unsustainable and those attorneys aren’t making as much as they would if they focused on investing. Those big budget firms could make the same revenue, with substantially less overhead, if they switched to an investment based approach.

Again, I’m often asked “how do I compete against firms with big budgets?”

The answer is simple – you don’t have to! If you focus on investing you can quickly grow your revenue while keeping your overhead down.

I took an investment based approach in my practice which involved my blogging both early and often. The result? I started in my living room with one client in August of 2006. In 2010 (3 ½ years later) my firm’s annual revenue was $1,046,695.00. I guess my investment paid off.

We have clients of our services who came to us after having spent large amounts of money with large national attorney marketing firms. Those firms had spent our clients’ money rather than investing it. These clients have seen an increase in revenue while decreasing their expenses since they switched over to our services.

Don’t worry about the size of your budget – focus on investment and you’ll be just fine.

Thanks to John Skiba of JD Blogger for having me on as a guest writer. If you haven’t subscribed to John’s site yet then you’re missing out on a good resource. If you have questions about our services at SEO For Lawyers then contact us via email or telephone at (800) 445-8302.

Luke Ciciliano JDBloggerLuke Ciciliano is the co-founder and chief blogger at SEO for Lawyers, a business that helps attorneys develop a web presence which provides a high return on investment and connects with clients in a way where law firms do not have to rely on third-party advertising.  Previously Luke grew his solo law practice into a firm generating $1 million in annual revenue after just three years.


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