Personal Injury and Primary Spine Care Program
From the Desk of:
Mark Studin DC, FASBE (C), DAAPM, DAAMLP
“Create a Huge Event for Lawyers Sponsored by your Local Bar Association and Let The Bar Do the Work For You”
Your local bar association is a great conduit to building your PI practice, as that is where the majority of lawyers congregate on a regular basis. For many years, I have had a great relationship with my local bar association which has afforded me access to every event and allowed me to become “one of them” vs. just me looking in. Here’s how to become one of them.
A bar association is an organization, like any other political association with one exception; lawyers have to answer to the bar association for ethical issues and their license. Lawyers also need to keep up with their knowledge of the law, as unlike healthcare, the law changes daily with rulings (literally), and they use the bar as a resource to keep informed on those changes. With that being said, the bar is still an organization that needs money to survive and uses their members and sponsorships from the community for income. The good news is that unless you are an ax murderer, they will take your money and let you be involved with their programs.
From the simple to the more complex, here are the types of programs that you can get involved with and the steps involved. The majority of bar associations have multiple meetings weekly for the different committees. These committees are called (i.e.) “Plaintiff’s Bar,” Defense Bar,” Trial Lawyer’s Bar” and “Family Bar,” to name a few. Each bar has educational programs and the general bar associations have educational programs as well. In addition to the educational programs, there are also social events hosted by the each committee and the general bar. The point, during the year there are usually a number of opportunities to get involved and get the lawyers that could refer to you, a chance to know you. Again, the paradigm shift is not for you to know them, but for them to know you. That can only be done with having a constant level of visibility in the legal community.
Call the bar association and speak to the executive director, if possible, to introduce yourself. Let them know that as a member of your professional organization (I support that as being the past Executive Board of Director-President of my state organization), you believe strongly in not just working with lawyers, but supporting their organization as well. Therefore, you want to get involved with sponsoring various programs and where do you start? As a side note, this will cost you money, how much you spend depends upon you.
They will give you a laundry list of how to spend your money. Do not purchase an ad in any of their publications. You want face time with lawyers that can refer to you. In the past, I have sponsored the “Personal Injury Legal Update” seminar at my local bar for 10 years in a row. It cost me $200 each year and my name was printed on their handout material and I was able to show up at each meeting, be introduced and talk to every lawyer before, during the break and after the meeting. I also sponsored the “Auto Liability Update,” “New Lawyers,” “Trial Lawyers,” “Negligence from A-Z”…. you get the picture. Over the years, I picked any program that they had where I could meet potential referrers and spent $200 per meeting. The bar association will ask you for all kinds of money. Remember, everything is negotiable and they will accept almost any amount you offer, within reason.
I averaged 2 meetings a month in the bar association. You need to have R-R-R as your game plan - Repeat and Review with Regularity. Within a few months, the lawyers got to know me as “One of them” and I was treated as such. They would ask me questions about their clients at the meetings and started to bring me cases to review. It wasn’t long until the referrals started, as they got more comfortable with me. You have a distinct advantage over me; you have been sending them information every 2 weeks to position yourself as the expert in their field of law. They know, or recognize, your name and that will remove many barriers in gaining a relationship with them.
When you are at the meetings, bring with you the “Educational Binders” (read on, we no longer recommend these... we recommend books we created for you to hand out) to hand out. Your goal is to have as many as possible want you in their practice month after month. You also need to let the lawyers know that you will be at many more meetings and if they want you to review any cases for them, they should bring them to future meetings or meet you for breakfast to go over the cases. Once you are “one of them,” the opportunities become limitless.
Each year the bar association holds programs, from individual courses to conventions, and it’s those “conventions” that you need to participate in.
If you wanted to create your own convention for lawyers you would have to do the following:
- Secure the venue
- Get speakers that would be an attraction for the lawyers to attend
- Get continuing Legal education status (CLE)
- Procure a mailing list to invite the lawyers
- Send invitations
- Handle registration
- Create an auditing process for CLE
- Pay for a conference center and food with the hope to attract enough attendees to cover the costs
- 101 other things to do while you run your practice…
Call your bar association and find out where and when they hold their convention and sign up as a sponsor. You get to do 1 thing, show up, meet the same lawyers, give the same message and get the same referrals, without all of the work or the financial risk, provided you are prepared. Here is where the 6 P’s come into play…Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
At the bar association convention, conference, symposium, or any other name they give to this event, you will get a booth or space to display your products and services. Here is what you need to understand and do:
First, you must understand that in a convention type setting, the lawyers will have dozens of distractions when strolling through the “vendor area,” and you have to catch their attention as they stroll by. In order to do that, you have to understand the concepts that advertisers utilize to sell….Headlines. It’s the headlines that sell newspapers, publications or products in those periodicals as the casual reader is passing by, or flipping through the pages. In your booth space, you have the same challenges the periodical does, and you need to get the attendee to stop, look at your space and then engage in conversation with you about why they need you.
You do this with posters. Take the bi-monthly educational fliers that are posted online and have them enlarged and laminated to poster size, after customizing them with your information on the bottom. You have to either hang them around the perimeter of your booth space or get tri-pods to place them on. The graphics will get them to come and read the topics of the poster, as many of the lawyers practice personal injury and it will “catch their eye.” Once they see something that is central to their business, they will come and look closer to see if they can learn something new to make more money. See how it always comes back to that!
Now that you’ve got them in your environment, what do you do with them? Prior to the seminar, prepare “educational binders” as described in previous consultations with your CV, a customized cover and the bi-monthly handouts, in color, 3-hole punched in the binder. After engaging with the lawyer about the posters, introduce them to the concept of the “Plaintiff IME.” This will be new to them and you should see their “eyes light up” because…you guessed it, it can make them more money (in an ethical way). Remember to always ask if they are plaintiff or defense lawyers. You do not want to spend a lot of time with the defense lawyers, as you only have a finite amount of face time in these environments and you want to focus on plaintiff lawyers.
Give them an “educational binder” and tell them each month 2 new topics are created, and if they would like, you would be pleased to get them a copy. Ask for their card and tell the lawyer you will contact them the next day to make arrangements with them. You must call the next day. People shop emotionally. Therefore, after 1-2 days, they will forget about you and when you contact them, they will more than likely not remember the significance of your meeting with them and not want to meet with you. This way, they will see your name twice per month, every month, while already having met you. Either way, you win. The goal is to create a monthly meeting with as many lawyers as possible.