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Legal Business

Are law firm newsletters worthwhile?

I recently participated in an interesting discussion with a group of law firm partners about the value of newsletters.

About half of the group said that their firm's newsletter was worthwhile overall; but the other half argued that it was a complete waste of time and resources.

Research that our firm, Walker Clark, LLC, has done on this topic suggests that both factions are approximately correct. Here is what we have observed:

  • Some newsletters by law firms are worse than worthless. Not only do clients consider bad newsletters to be junk e-mail; but a bad newsletter can actually create a negative image among prospective clients.
  • The worst of the "bad" category includes newsletters that are primarily about the firm, such as promotions, new partners joining the firms, and recent awards and activities. Recipients tend to view these as nothing more than advertising - and rather poor advertising at that - rather than a marketing communication that has intrinsic value to the client.
  • The best newsletters are ones with "news that I can use," as one client stated. The two most-frequently mentioned characteristics of "good newsletters" are: (a) They are concise; and (b) they focus on practical implications for the client, not academic considerations that are interesting only to lawyers who specialize in the issue. A newsletter is not a law review.
  • The return on investment in newsletters sent to prospective clients is low. However, the investment in an electronic newsletter is very low. Overall, we would rate newsletters to non-clients as somewhat more effective than traditional advertising in print or electronic trade publications and business journals. As one law firm partner stated, "Sending a newsletter to a non-client is like buying a cheap lottery ticket."
  • The return on investment in electronic newsletters sent to active and recent clients is relatively high. An informative newsletter that is relevant to the client's business or personal legal affairs can be a very powerful client-relations tool. The key word here is "relevant." This suggests that the best approach for many law firms is to produce a series of newsletters, each aimed at a specific sector of a firm's client base, rather than a single one.
  • Although there are exceptions, most clients of law firms prefer electronic formats delivered by e-mail. However, visitors to a law firm are highly likely to pick up, read, and take away printed copies of newsletters that are available in waiting areas. This appears to be an important exception to the "print is dead" assumption

Read more on the Walker Clark Worldview Blog.