Looking for an effective and free of charge way to grow your law practice? You can do so through Craigslist. I decided to write on this topic due to the fact that we wrote how attorneys can use Craigslist for free marketing as part of our series on how to build a better law firm in 30 days. That post was written in May of 2014 and it has consistently received good traffic since then. Since this is a topic which lawyers have interest in, I decided to give it another discussion. Want more clients without paying for marketing? If the answer is “yes” then read on. If the answer is “no”………., well, ok.

For the right practice areas, Craiglist is the most time-efficient and cost-effective way to grow your enterprise. As I wrote in my last post on the topic – in 2006 when I started my firm it was the most effective, yet least utilized form of attorney marketing. Now, in 2015, it remains the most effective and least utilized form of attorney marketing. The fact that more lawyers don’t take advantage of the resource leaves me scratching my head like this young chap:

Child scratching his head

Consider the following examples:

  • In 2007 my office handled a contested divorce, for which we were paid $20,000, for a client who found us through Craigslist
  • In 2007-08 my office handled a pair of civil appeals, for which we were paid a little over $15,000. We were retained to handle these appeals by another attorney who found us on Craigslist
  • We handled numerous other divorce and family law matters for clients who found us through the service

The amount of money my firm spent for this advertising was:

Free Sign On Keyboard

The time commitment to “manage” a Craigslist campaign? Oh…….about 15 minutes a week. Why don’t more attorneys use this service? That’s a question which has me stumped. We’ve handled Craigslist campaigns for clients of our attorney website design service and they’ve seen good success with it. Let’s take a look at how you can use brother Craig’s (yes…..the founder of Craigslist really is named Craig), invention.

Craigslist provides a free marketing resource for lawyers and law firms

If you stroll on over to Craigslist you’ll see a “services” section near the bottom. This includes a legal services area. In that section you may see ads which range from those for attorneys to those for paralegal services, etc. Posting in this area is free of charge. There is, however, a right way and a wrong way to go about using the service. Let’s take a look at some do’s and don’ts.

First, sign up a free account with Craigslist. This lets you post more quickly and manage your existing postings. A big benefit of using an account is that you can “renew” old posts. This pushes your old posts back to the top of the list; since the posts appear chronologically this is a big deal. This “renew” feature saves you the time of having to do a fresh post every time. Second, have a graphic artist put together a decent graphic for use in your ad – don’t just post text. The photo section of a Craigslist post calls for a photo with dimensions of 600 x 450 pixels. Here’s a sample of what you should make your graphic look like:

Sample Craigslist Advertisement

Third, when posting the accompanying text with your banner, keep it short and simple. Say a little bit about your firm, what kinds of cases you handle, and stress your customer service policies (that you promptly return phone calls, etc.). Don’t spout off your resume or beat your chest. Your text section, which should include your contact information, really shouldn’t be longer than a short paragraph. Third, don’t list or discuss fees in your ad (this is something that should never be done in any form of marketing, including Craigslist). The only time you should ever discuss fees, in any form of advertising, is if your fee structure actually gives you an advantage over the competition.

The big “don’t” is that you need to refrain from blasting/spamming your ad onto Craigslist. At the most, I would suggest posting once in the morning and once in the evening. If you are in an area of the country where Craigslist isn’t used as heavily by advertisers then you may only want to post once every few days or even every few weeks, depending on how light the list of ads is. You don’t want people to pull up the legal services section and get the impression that you’re the spam man. In other words, post enough that your ads are visible for a meaningful period of time – and that’s it.

Follow this approach and you’ll get some calls from this free service and some of those calls will turn into clients.

Many lawyers use flawed logic to justify not utilizing Craigslist

I’ve had some discussions with attorneys who have told me why they don’t use the service and, to be honest, I just don’t get it. My favorite is when people say that “Craigslist just isn’t as big in this part of the country” as it is somewhere else. An example of this would be in the mid-west where not as many people advertise on the service or look on it for services they wish to purchase. Well let me tell you a little story in response to that – my wife and I recently moved out to Ohio (the mid-west). Moving cross-country was less than easy. Before moving into to our house we wanted to have a cleaning service come in and clean the floors and touch up the place. Being from the west coast I went to look on Craigslist for a service. My wife, who is from Ohio, told me that Craigslist wouldn’t be a good place to look because the service isn’t as heavily used in the mid-west (the same thing I hear from attorneys). Lo and behold – she was right. There was only one cleaning service advertising on Craigslist and not many companies, in general, posted in the category. I picked up the phone, called the one service, and we became their customer. When talking to the owner of the cleaning service – an entrepreneur with a quickly growing business that is expanding through Ohio – she told me that Craigslist has been a big part of her company’s early growth.

It really doesn’t matter what part of the country you’re in – just do the math. If fewer people look to Craigslist for services, and fewer people use it for advertising, then the balance of consumers to service providers really doesn’t change all that much.

It’s not a secret that attorneys are having a hard time. Such is why I wrote a lengthy series on the struggling legal profession. If you’re struggling, and not utilizing a free resource, then you really don’t have anyone to blame except the person in the mirror.

Why do you feel so many attorneys ignore Craigslist? Chime in through the comment form below.