"Everything you've been told about building
an injury law practice is wrong"

The Hidden Truth About the Practice of Law

As our firm’s partners sat around a long table at the “all hands-on deck” meeting, the question was simple: how many trials do you have scheduled in the next 12 months? The news wasn’t what anyone wanted to hear. Each of the lawyers stare down while softly mumbling they only have a couple of trials scheduled over the next year, and it quickly became clear that our projected revenue was bleak…until the final lawyer spoke.

The final lawyer to speak told the others, “I’ve got 11 trials and some are double booked. Can you help?” This lawyer was booking trial dates, hustling and bringing in new clients. Business looked good for at least 1 of the 7 lawyers, but therein lies the problem: every lawyer in your firm has to bring in new clients because your magnificent trial skills and analytical abilities mean nothing without clients.

Getting clients is your business—yes, your law firm is a “marketing business”. This is the one thing that most lawyers struggle to accept more than anything.

The Vision for Your Dream Law Firm

Where do you want your firm to be in 5 years? Identify your ideal law firm by revenue/income, # of employees and # of active cases. Make your goals simple, write them down, and review them daily.

Income & Financial Goals of John H. Fisher, P.C.

Goal for 2018: Increase the number of referral partners to 375

Goal: Annual Income: $2.5 million

Goal: 10k subscribers for email newsletter on UltimateInjuryLaw.com

Goal: 25k monthly visitors to ProtectingPatientRights.com

Goal: To be the #1 law firm in Upstate New York for referrals of medical malpractice cases

Will we get there?  We’ll never find out if we don’t clearly identify our goals and review them daily. Better yet, post your goals in your conference room for all to see.

Make Magic Happen at a Quarterly Strategic Meeting

Once you’ve set your 5-year vision, how are you going to get there? Schedule a quarterly strategic meeting of your team members to identify your top marketing tactics and ways to expand your influence to new referral partners.  Spend a day at an off-site location and document the results (there is no more important use of your time).

Your plan should include historical data, future predictions, current marketing position, a discussion of the target market, and a description of the methods or strategies to achieve your marketing objectives.

While a marketing plan should have a formal structure to keep you accountable, it should also be held as an informal, flexible document with room for tweaking as needed.

Harlan Schillinger

The Marketing Plan for John H. Fisher, P.C.

Our Target Market:

Plaintiffs’ personal injury lawyers in New York State between the ages of 35 and 55, who have high volume caseloads, but do not handle medical malpractice.

These are the ideal clients for our law firm.

Historical Data:

Our best financial results have been based upon recoveries in non-medical malpractice catastrophic personal injury cases.  Even with the same gross recovery, the legal fee in a catastrophic personal injury case is close to double the legal fee for a medical malpractice case.

For example, we earned a legal fee of $394k for a $2.5 M settlement in a medical malpractice case, while we earned $753k for a $2.37 M arbitration decision in a catastrophic personal injury case. Even though the gross recovery was almost the same, the legal fee in the catastrophic personal injury case was almost double the legal fee in the medical malpractice case.

We need to expand our practice into catastrophic personal injury in order to achieve our goal of annual income of $2.5 M.

Current Marketing Position:

We have 282 referral partners, our main website (ProtectingPatientRights.com) gets 12k-13k visitors per month and we have 1,200 subscribers for our email newsletter on UltimateInjuryLaw.com.

While we have 282 referral partners, almost all of our revenue is generated by 4 plaintiffs’ law firms.  We need to expand our referral relationships to plaintiffs’ personal injury law firms in the Hudson Valley, Capital District and Central New York.

In 2017, we derived over 80% of our revenue from internet marketing.  We need a better system for following up with prospects who do not have a case and nurture and cultivate leads through a 365-day follow up campaign.

Future Predictions:

Unless the statutory legal fee in medical malpractice increases to one-third, it will be very difficult to achieve our goal of annual income of $2.5 M. I do not believe the statutory legal fees will be increased in the next 3-5 years, and hence, we need to expand our practice to at least 1, and ideally 3, catastrophic injury cases per year.

In order to achieve this goal, we should launch a new website that provides resources and information for the victims of traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injuries in New York State.  While we will not see immediate results, I expect to expand our practice area into catastrophic personal injury within 3-5 years.

The Ultimate Wish-list for Lawyers

Think of new and inexpensive ways to market your firm, i.e., community marketing programs (“Bikes for Kids”) or an email newsletter. List all of your marketing tactics and then list them by order of priority, namely, “What will you implement first?”

You know what they say about the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.

So, stop the insanity by looking at your marketing tactics with a whole new perspective. You must ask yourself, where you want to be this year, next year and in five years.

Harlan Schillinger

Marketing all is about building relationships.  You are not “marketing”, you’re building relationships one at a time. When you build relationships with prominent, influential referral sources, you may not have to spend a penny on advertising.

Marketing Tactics & Strategies for John H. Fisher, P.C.

Our firm’s marketing goals and tactics are broken into 6 categories:

  • Law Office Operations,
  • Referral Marketing,
  • Internet Marketing,
  • Social Media & Email Newsletter,
  • Mastermind Experience,
  • Community Marketing & Press Relations

Each goal/tactic is listed top to bottom in the order of their priority, so our Marketing Director knows where to focus her time, energy and resources.

Law Office Operations:

  • Get Intake Wizard in Trialworks to synch with Infusionsoft,
  • Update and finalize the Office Manual into a mini-book,
  • Implement Infusionsoft for Client updates;
  • Create infographic for lobby with our Mission (basecamps for 2018, 2019 and 2020, i.e., 600 referral partners by October 19, 2020),
  • Remove voice recording on answering message on phone system,
  • Implement Dream Manager Program;
  • Hire Frank Flynn, CPA as the Dream Manager;
  • Create a brochure describing the Dream Manager Program and a form for the Dream Manual

Referral Marketing:

  • Schedule lunch dates once a week with an existing referral partner and a prospective referral partner,
  • Schedule a 2-hour meeting every Friday to meet with our Marketing Director to review our progress and new marketing initiatives,
  • Make book, The Power of a System, part of the curriculum in the legal practice management classes of each of the 17 law schools in New York State,
  • Give a one-hour speech for law students about managing and marketing their own law practice in every law school in New York,
  • Expand speaking engagements to trial lawyer organizations outside of New York with a focus on the American Association for Justice,
  • Get 250 reviews of The Power of a System on Amazon.com,
  • Create an audio book for The Power of a System and add to the Shock & Awe Package and add the book to Audible.com,
  • Meet with the professors of law practice management at every law school in New York State to introduce The Power of a System as part of the curriculum,
  • Ensure that every lawyer in the State of New York possesses The Power of a System,
  • Add video testimonials of The Power of a System on John’s Amazon author profile,
  • Finish “Shock & Awe” package for referral partners,
  • Create CD of interviews of Ben Glass, Esq., Adam Witty and Richard James Strauch for inclusion in the “Shock & Awe” package,
  • Finish “Shock & Awe” package for new clients,
  • Create mini-book of “Our Best Legal Forms for Personal Injury Lawyers”;
  • Contact New York State Bar Association (Daniel McMahon, Editor in Chief) about article submission

Internet Marketing:

  • Implement new website with BluShark Digital,
  • Implement community marketing programs with BluShark,
  • Create “Speaking” page on ProtectingPatientRights.com,
  • Create “Lawyer Referrals” page on ProtectingPatientRights.com,
  • Get video testimonials from former clients using ScreenShare;
  • Launch new website for victims of traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injuries in New York State,
  • Create a stand-alone blog for Lawyer Alert (get listed on the ABA Top 100 for lawyer blogs),
  • Implement link building campaign

Social Media & Email Newsletter:

  • Monthly Facebook Live shows based upon the marketing and management of law firms,
  • Upload more video to our YouTube channel,
  • Track YouTube performance with analytics,
  • Add introductory 10 emails for new email subscribers for email newsletter;
  • Implement Mike Dillard’s list building system to expand the list of email subscribers

Mastermind Experience:

  • Create sales funnel (a/k/a campaign) for promotion of the Mastermind Experience;
  • Create CD of podcast interview on the Maximum Lawyer for inclusion in the “Shock & Awe” package for referral partners;
  • Expand the Mastermind Experience into Southern California,
  • Create webinars and Facebook ad campaign for the promotion of the Mastermind Experience

Community Marketing & Press Relations:

  • Create a Press Kit for media relations and put the Press Kit on the website,
  • Create a media list for members of the legal community in the Hudson Valley and Capital District,
  • Give legal commentary in local and national TV stations,
  • Build relationships with the local media through community marketing programs

A Challenge for You

Create a marketing plan of your ultimate wish list and then get to work making it happen. Meet with your Marketing Director (or paralegal) at a dedicated time one day a week (i.e., 3-5 p.m. on Fridays) and check off your goals as you achieve them.

If you do this one thing along, you will be miles ahead of every other lawyer in your market and on the way to building the law firm of your dreams.


photo credit: Augur Marketing Business Success via photopin (license)

Leave a comment below telling me what surprised, inspired or taught you the most (I personally respond to every comment). And if you disagree with my take on running a personal injury law firm, or have a specific, actionable tip, I’d love to hear from you.