Top commercial law firms in Nigeria become industry leaders and celebrity firms not only because of the stellar service delivery they provide for their law firm clients, but also because of their legal marketing and the things they do to promote their law practise.
In Nigeria, the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners creates certain prohibitions with regards to lawyers marketing themselves. Unfortunately, many lawyers have seen this as an insurmountable obstacle in the way of their marketing their law firms. This is far from the case; the RPC provides for reasonable advertisements, within bounds of the RPC. We shall examine the best way law firms can build their practise and reputations to become top law firm brands in Nigeria.
For legal service firms, building a brand is very important in the establishment of themselves as a top law firm. Sadly, many lawyers view building their brand as merely creating office space, hiring competent staff, creating a website, and then doing good work for their law firm clients.
Building a law firm brand is far more than doing these. It entails a deliberate alignment of duties and purpose for the law firm. From creating the colour palette that will be utilized in the law firm’s marketing materials, to the creation of the firm’s logo and all accompanying law firm stationery, to the look and feel of the law firm’s physical offices to fall in line with the chosen design elements, to the streamlined online presence the firm builds to showcase its offerings to the members of the public. . .building a law firm brand entails quite a lot. It is not something that can be hastily dispensed with because of the effort that can go into it so as to create differentiating markers that sets the law firm apart from others in the industry.
Several top law firms in Nigeria are known for the strong personal brands of their lawyers and the law firm brands themselves which have solidified their practise in the legal services industry.
Prominent examples: Aluko & Oyebode, Templars, Olaniwun Ajayi LP, Aelex, ACAS-Law, Solola & Akpana, Banwo & Ighodalo. . . A deep scrutiny into these firms will showcase the fact that they are notable brands that stand out from others in the law practise industry in Nigeria. This leads to the question: what makes them stand out? The answer: A lot.
So, it stands to reason that law firms that seek to develop very strong brands have some work to do.
Read: Brand Strategy: Why Your Law Firm Needs to Develop a Strong Brand Strategy for Market Positioning for more insights on building a solid law firm brand.
Legal services entails an ongoing professional relationship between the client and the attorney. Because legal services is services-based, not products-based, clients and prospects tend to hire lawyers they can trust to handle their work well. They do not generally hire law firms. People hire the lawyers that work in a law firm.
What does this then portend for lawyers? It means that a lawyer’s personal brand is as important as the law firm’s brand, if not more important. So, it is important for lawyers to build their own personal brands.
This article: How to create a Social Media Marketing Strategy to Grow your Legal Career will provide a definitive guide in this direction for interested lawyers to build their own personal brand.
Sole practitioners make it; sole proprietors also thrive in their practise. However, these two systems of practise cannot beat the strength that goes having strong partners coming together to drive the success of a law firm.
In the past, there have been mergers of law firms because these merging firms want to combine the practise expertise of their individual lawyers into a stronger, unified unit that can help them drive a stronger brand message to their potential clients. It works.
Rethinking the Law Firm Business Model in Nigeria: A Critical Look at the Need for Law Firm Partnerships will provide deeper marketing insight on law firm partnerships for long-term law firm growth.
In today’s marketing, the marketing departments of professional services firms have discovered that “Interruption Marketing” no longer works. People tend to ignore advertising materials that disrupt their social media usage. Coupled with the restrictions placed on advertising for Nigerian lawyers, law firm marketers have their work cut out for them because they have to circumvent a lot of restrictions in order to make their advertising effective.
However, there is a solution. Social Media. Marketers have to follow their prospects and potential clients to the social media sites where they can be found, and the same is true for lawyers and law firms. For lawyers, creating educative, highly-qualitative articles and posts on platforms like LinkedIn comes with great dividends. The reason is because of the fact that those who’re likely to need the professional services of lawyers can be found more on LinkedIn than Facebook or Instagram.
The Internet is saturated with text-based content that has been created by several thousands of content creators around the world for several years. Law firms and lawyers have been putting out thought leadership content to appeal to their target audience for years. However, with the exponential rise of legal publications online and the increase in legal content creators and platforms, law firms with publishing segments have to work hard with their text-based content in order to retain the attention of their readers. The answer is simple: Law is a highly technical subject matter and people with legal needs are usually (although in many cases, quite sophisticated) lay men that do not understand the finer print of the Law.
Leading Law firms in the USA and the UK have integrated video marketing. Personally, I think that law firms are (and are becoming) full-fledged media publishing houses unlike in the past. However, law firms in Nigeria are yet to catch on to video content marketing. Leading lawyers in Lagos and Abuja have always appeared in the Media, giving their legal opinion on political and economic issues/policies. Gbenga Oyebode (Chairman, Aluko & Oyebode), Femi Falana, SAN, Festus Keyamo, SAN, Inibehe Effiong, are all lawyers who have appeared in the Media at different points of their careers to talk on extant legal issues facing Nigeria.
In spite of the growing increase in the number of Nigerian lawyers that appear in the Media, Nigerian law firms are yet to actively embrace video content marketing. Nigerian law firms can create a budget for video in their marketing documentation and use the various mediums out there to get their thought leadership messages out. Instagram expanded their video service to include IGTV to enable users watch longer videos on the platform. YouTube is the Prima Donna of video content creation and literally millions of users log into the platform to watch videos on a daily basis. LinkedIn included video uploads and has expanded that to now include live video. Whatsapp has included a video creation feature that enables users to create and upload videos on their status.
With this exponential rise in video content platforms that enables people to upload videos for free, Nigerian law firm brands have a potent marketing weapon to add to their arsenals. Sadly, as at the time of writing this article, the number of Nigerian law firms that use video content is negligible, if not totally non-existent. However, I strongly advise law firms to include video content in their content marketing strategy.
LinkedIn is the world’s largest and most potent marketing platform for B2B businesses, law firms included. Nigeria’s premium law firms have dedicated law firm company pages on LinkedIn. ACAS-Law, UUBO, Olaniwun Ajayi LP, Templars alongside the other top tier and mid tier law firms in Nigeria (most with their head offices in Lagos and Abuja) use LinkedIn actively to reach their target audience and others in the legal services community.
It is inarguable that LinkedIn is the official “Facebook” for professionals and B2B and B2C companies all have strong followings on the platforms. CEOs, CFOs, heads of businesses, all rely on the (active) pages of leading Nigerian law firms on LinkedIn for legal related updates about changes in Regulations and legislations, analysis of the potential impacts of new laws on their businesses and operations, etc. Many of these c-level executives do not have the time to search for such news on the Internet; rather these news items pop up on their LinkedIn feed from the pages of the law firms they follow. Nigerian lawyers also actively follow the pages of active law firms for legal updates.
What this means is that the law firms with strong branding, high activity and engagement rates, ultimately wins. The reason is simple: the potential target audience of most law firms, cutting across various industries and sectors, are on LinkedIn, either as active or passive users of the platform. Law firms have always scrambled to reach their target audience with their unique messaging and value proposition. Using LinkedIn as an external content platform will do wonders for a Nigerian law firm seeking to expand its visibility, positioning and awareness in the minds of their target (legal) consumers.
Some firms and lawyers are superstars. They are known for their avid participation in industry events and trade associations where they speak, they network, and they make the most of opportunities available to them to mingle with others in the profession.
Networking is very important for lawyers. Association meetings, conferences, dinners and other related events are opportunities for lawyers to come together and know those they’re working in the same profession with. This can help law firms gain symbiotic referral relationships with other lawyers and other law firms working in their niche and others working in other niches who can be good referral partners for them.
Read: Networking for Lawyers, for more insight on the importance of growing strong networks for lawyers.
Getting positive media coverage for your law firm is an indicator that the law firm is doing something well. In this regard, it’s usually more effective for individual attorney marketing. In Nigeria, lawyers like Femi Falana has gained a lot of media publicity over the years due to their stand on landmark issues of law that crosses various areas of legal practise.
A lawyer getting an article featured in highly trusted trade publications is a positive asterisk in the lawyer’s visibility. Trade publications, magazines, newspapers, and even video media houses, usually have a lot of followers and readership, so it’s usually a large bonus for lawyers to be featured on them to bolster their efforts.
Lawyers and law firms are usually engaged in various sectors of the economy, so it will be easy for each law firm to discover the causes and community-based projects they are interested in and then be a part of same. That way, they can give back to the community that has given them so much. It is also a way for them to identify with relevant stakeholders and be visible in their community.
One of the best ways law firms can become seen and “perceived” as top law firms in Nigeria is through content marketing. Content marketing amongst law firms in Nigeria and all over the world has risen in recent years, with law firms showcasing their thought leadership of their service industries through the publication of high-quality articles and blog posts on their websites and related industry publications.
The content we are talking about is content that is educative; that which enlightens the readers on legal issues. Promotional content is advertising and people don’t do advertising in today’s world, so it would never fly. Ever.
Tips for law firm content marketing:
How to start on your law firm content marketing strategy is an article guide that covers content marketing for law firms with great details and depth.
To becoming a top law firm is not a day’s job, neither are the activities you need to undertake for your law firm free. It requires constant research, refining of processes, trials, undoing and redoing– these activities will definitely eat into funds. So, from the start, it is great for law firms to set their marketing budget. A yearly budget will be instructive in this regard. However, it is worthy to note that with your law firm’s growth spurt and advancement, your legal marketing budget should be adjusted upwards too to go in line with the firm’s growth, because you will have more to pursue to be able to maintain gained market share and remain there, or grow further upwards.
Given the above, it would be ridiculous for a small law firm in Lagos with 7 attorneys to have the same legal marketing budget as a 20-attorney law firm with a higher professional body count. The latter firm will have to engage in more marketing activities, and it is only fitting if they have the higher budget for it.
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