I am the managing partner of a six attorney boutique estate planning practice located in Madison, Wisconsin. We had a great year last year financially as we have the last several years. However, this year (2016) we are off to a terrible start. Our new matter intakes are down by twenty-five percent. We have a very proactive marketing program – print advertisements, directory listings, top notch website, and we do seminars for prospective clients. I know other estate planning attorneys that do more seminars than we do. Should we be doing more seminars? I would appreciate your insight.
I have other estate planning law firm clients telling me that their new client intakes are down this year as well. I think it is a demand/timing issue. Regardless of the amount of advertising I find that most estate planning firms receive the bulk of their clients from past client referrals, referrals from friends, and referrals from other professionals including lawyers. Some of my estate planning law firm clients that spend the least on advertising are the most successful financially.
Regarding seminars, I believe they are not having the same impact that they did in the past. More and more people are going to the internet for information and content. State Bar Associations are reporting that more and more CLE programs are being delivered electronically via the internet in the form of webcasts and webinars. College degrees, law degrees, and LLM degrees are being offered via the internet. I believe that traditional face-to-face seminars will draw less qualified prospective clients than in the past.
I would still look for opportunities to "partner up" with organizations that are willing to sponsor seminars but I would resist the temptation to sponsor and fund seminars yourself.
You might want to experiment with sponsoring your own educational webinars for clients and prospective clients and look into webinar products such as www.GoToWebinar.com. The expense would be minimal and you may have better results.
John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC