An attorney on a forum asked the following question: “Do you see any way of creating a barrier to entry for bankruptcy practice that will allow only a few firms in any given market to dominate that market place?” This is an interesting and complex question. It made me realize just how influential online advertising and pay per click management for attorneys has become.
My take was different than many of the others on the forum. Some answers related to the impropriety of the question including concerns about price-fixing and group tactics to stifle capitalism. However, I think the question reflected some larger issues that are on the horizon and my response was as follows:
If outside investment into law firms ever happens you would see a massive barrier to entry for the solo and small firms into any area of law. There would be publicly traded firms with resources for protecting their brand, services, etc. You would see a lot of law practices being Walmarted out of existence. On the flip side you would hopefully see some improvements in the delivery of legal services. However, many legal issues require the serious thought and sound judgment of a good professional.
Current barriers to entry revolve around knowledge and technology. For example, after the new code went into effect in 2005 many attorneys stopped practicing [bankruptcy] law or went out of business. Also, advertising on the internet with pay per click and social media levels the playing field for new entrants. They can acquire clients within days using current online advertising techniques.
The barriers to entry have been reduced in every area of law due to online advertising and especially pay per click advertising for attorneys. Pay Per Click matches your online advertisement directly to someone searching for an attorney in your practice area. A potential client types into their web browser “bankruptcy attorney” and an appropriately targeted advertisement is the first one to appear. This is different from advertising in a newspaper, networking, or similar untargeted media where a prospective client must stumble upon your message.
The largest bankruptcy filers and bankruptcy attorney directories use professional pay per click management for attorneys and have monthly budgets in the range of $200,000 (competitive research I have done in the area). However, any attorney can compete in paid search for clients regardless of budget and bring in a steady flow of clients each month to produce a robust and healthy practice. The barriers to starting a law practice and obtaining clients are coming down. To remain competitive you need to be advertising where the clients are searching. A properly managed pay per click advertising campaign puts your practice in a competitive position.
In 2004 I started using Google AdWords and pay per click advertising to turn a solo practice into a law firm of 18 employees that produced over $1 million in gross revenue a year. I then founded pay per click management company, EverSignal, to help private practices, service businesses, and professional services firms do the same. Please feel free to leave your comments or ask questions using the form below.
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