More and more, customers place importance on the values of the companies that they interact with. One 2020 survey found that 71% of consumers prefer buying from companies aligned with their values, and noted that the sentiment is especially strong among younger generations.

While this figure specifically refers to consumer products, it reflects a trend that companies in all industries, including the legal field, should take to heart when developing a marketing strategy. In the law, where trust and credibility are paramount, centering your marketing campaigns on your firm’s values not only fosters stronger relationships with clients, but also enhances the firm’s reputation and standing in the community. Here’s how to define your firm’s values and integrate them into your messaging.

Defining Law Firm Values through a Marketing Lens

Before we explore how to integrate values into your firm’s marketing strategy, we have to establish what “values” we’re actually referring to.

It’s a common misconception that corporate values mean taking an overt political stance on a controversial topic. While that’s an approach that some firms might prefer to take for a number of reasons, it’s important to understand that “values” and “politics” are mutually exclusive concepts.

Think of a firm’s values as a set of guiding principles, beliefs and ethical standards that form the foundation of the firm's culture and define its character. These generally fall into two categories: internal and external.

Internal values govern how the firm’s attorneys and staff interact with each other, define the work culture, and promote respect and collaboration within the firm. These could include a commitment to diversity, accountability in leadership and transparency to staff. On the other hand, external values are projected outward to clients and the legal community. They showcase the firm’s commitment to ethical conduct, client-centered service and excellence in legal practice.

Establishing these values through a carefully crafted marketing strategy is the first step in building trust and credibility with potential clients. Clearly communicated firm values can signal transparency, show clients that the firm operates with openness and honesty, and demonstrate a firm’s commitment to upholding the highest legal standards. Clients seek legal counsel they can rely on, and a values-driven approach assures them that a firm is trustworthy enough to handle their legal matter with care. Values that emphasize client satisfaction and service also create a client-centered culture within the firm, and when clients perceive that their needs are at the forefront of a firm’s priorities, it sets the foundation for a successful attorney-client relationship.

Defining Your Firm’s Values

As we can see, the idea of “corporate values” is a fairly broad concept. If you don’t take the time to narrow your focus and establish a specific sense of direction for your marketing strategy, your audience could miss the important takeaways. When deciding exactly what values to focus on in a legal marketing strategy, it’s important to consider the firm’s practices, culture and desire for growth.

Niche Differentiators: Values that highlight niche areas of the firm’s focus showcase its differentiators and raise its credibility. For example, an environmental law firm might choose to emphasize its commitment to supporting green energy initiatives or participation in local cleanup activities.

Innovation: Firms practicing in areas like intellectual property, copyright or patent law might prefer to emphasize innovation and adaptability to reflect a forward-thinking approach. A marketing strategy focusing on leadership, accountability, creativity and quality in a firm demonstrates a commitment to staying at the forefront of advancements in the legal field.

Diversity and Inclusion: This approach encompasses both external and internal values. Externally, it makes a firm look more approachable for clients of all walks of life who want to work with someone whom they feel understands and respects their personal experiences. Internally, emphasizing diversity and inclusion makes for a more collaborative and innovative work environment.

Collaboration and Teamwork: While it’s always a good idea to humanize your firm and seem more approachable to clients, focusing on your team as individuals rather than just as professionals can make your firm more attractive to new talent. It also fosters a sense of belonging and camaraderie in the workplace, enhancing overall productivity and employee satisfaction.

It’s important to note that picking a values-based direction for your marketing strategy shouldn’t feel like you’ve backed yourself into a corner. A multifaceted approach can be very effective if there’s still a clear sense of direction.

The Best Ways to Integrate Values into Legal Marketing

Once you’ve decided which values to focus on in your marketing strategy, you can decide exactly how you want to execute that strategy. The tools for this aren’t necessarily new for seasoned marketing professionals, but it’s still important to understand how we can use them in this context.

Original Content: Developing original content for your firm’s website is a great way to demonstrate a commitment to values. For example, if integrity is a core value, it would make sense to publish articles about ethical legal practices or case studies that demonstrate the importance of ethical decision-making.

Website and Social Media: Your firm’s website and social media platforms are the most easily accessible tools for showcasing your commitment to values. Sharing testimonials, relevant success stories and a strong mission statement make your principles clear to potential clients. You can also boost audience engagement with thought-provoking questions or a Q&A section about the firm.

Thought Leadership: Help your firm’s attorneys position themselves as thought leaders by providing them with opportunities for speaking at conferences, writing articles or participating in panels related to your firm’s values. This positions your firm or individual attorneys as authorities in the legal field and reinforces their commitment to core principles.

Community Engagement: Highlight the firm’s involvement in community initiatives or pro bono work that reflects its principles. You can share these efforts on social media to demonstrate your firm’s dedication to making a positive impact beyond profitable legal services.

The Long-Term Impact of Value-Based Marketing

Establishing firm values through legal marketing is not a one-time effort but an ongoing commitment. The long-term impact of these values extends beyond acquiring clients; it influences the firm’s growth, reputation and client relationships. 

Productive Client Relationships: Firm values form the foundation for productive client relationships by fostering trust, loyalty and satisfaction. Choosing the right lawyer can be a difficult process, so when your clients know exactly what principles your firm prioritizes, it instills the confidence and assurance that are critical to a successful attorney-client relationship.

Attracting Top Talent: Attorneys often choose to work at law firms that align with their values because it fosters a sense of purpose and fulfillment in their work. A values-aligned firm creates a supportive and motivating environment where attorneys feel empowered to uphold their ethical standards and contribute meaningfully to the firm’s mission.

Positive Reputation: Over time, consistent demonstration of values leads to a positive reputation in the legal community and beyond. Word of mouth can be critical for your law firm’s success, and establishing your firm’s trustworthiness and credibility can set you apart from your peers.

Conclusion

The growing emphasis on company values in consumer decisions underscores the importance for law firms to integrate their values into their marketing strategies. Taking a moment to consider how to integrate your firm’s mission into your original content, social media channels, website and professional development initiatives has benefits beyond client acquisition, firm growth and reputation. By defining and communicating your firm’s internal and external values, you can foster the trust, credibility and client satisfaction that is critical to long-term success.

If you need help with identifying and presenting your firm values, reach out to me, Candace Baker, at cbaker@jaffepr.com.