Alert for Lawyers on Nonprofit Boards

Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.

Many lawyers get invited to serve on nonprofit boards. Of course, the organization hopes to get some free legal advice from you now and then, but they may also be seeking your general worldly wisdom and perspective. Serving on the board for a cause you care about gives you a chance to make a difference in your community, while also doing some much needed public relations work for the legal profession.

Most lawyers work with nonprofits for laudable and generous reasons, but even the curmudgeons among us have found that serving on a such boards can be good for their law practice. Nonprofits usually seek out business leaders and prominent citizens to serve on their boards, so board membership gives you a chance to get to know and interact regularly with quality potential clients and referral sources.

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No Lawyer Left Behind: Getting on the Web

Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.

Not long ago, I received a request for a lawyer referral. Three lawyers came to mind, so I prepared to pass on their contact information, including website addresses. To my surprise, one of the lawyers did not have a website. Without a website, I feared the lawyer would appear unsophisticated to the client. I calculated the extra effort necessary to describe his qualifications. In the end, I chose to save myself some time and avoid the risk of appearing to give low quality referrals. I passed on contact info for only two lawyers.

Originally published in the March 2007 issue of the Texas Bar Journal.

Referrals Check You Out on the Web

Some lawyers say they don’t need a website because most of their business comes from referrals. According to Margot W. Teleki in the July 17, 2006 issue of the New Jersey Law Journal, “the first thing your referral will do is check out your firm’s web site before giving you a call to see who and what you are and how well you’re suited to meet his needs.” Gerry Morris, a white collar criminal lawyer in Austin, Texas, says “Sometimes clients referred to me by other lawyers come into my office with a printout from my website in hand.”

If your firm doesn’t have a website, could you be losing referral business without knowing it? When your prospective client can’t find you on the web, could that send the message that your firm is too small, too new, too unsophisticated, too unsuccessful, or too behind the times to handle the good quality work you desire to attract?

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