Today we’re going to be covering a hot take that might be a bit controversial among lawyers: Networking events are a waste of your time as an attorney.

Before you grab the pitchforks, let me explain.

As I’ve previously discussed, most attorneys don’t understand internet marketing all that well. And who’s to blame them? It’s not their specialty to be marketers, after all.

Why Attorneys Underestimate Digital Marketing

In law school, most lawyers are taught to look at everything through analogies. And while this approach isn’t wrong, many lawyers pick the wrong analogy when it comes to online marketing. They view a website and blog as if it were a phone book or TV advertisement. But there’s a key difference between these two mediums.

With the former, you own your marketing assets outright. With the latter two, you’re renting ad space from third parties on various mediums.

We’re going to take a more in-depth look into why websites and blogs are much more worthwhile than you may think. (And why networking events are much less worthwhile than you may think.)

Networking is Out

Now I know what you’re thinking; “Networking events are an important way to make contacts!

You probably see those events as critical pieces of your strategy. After all, how could something that looks like this be a waste of your time?

Networking event

I’ll let you in on a secret, though. 

Attending events like the one pictured above isn’t a good investment of your time, and bad investments of your time can be just as detrimental (or more) than unwisely investing your money.

And over time, as the attorneys who can adapt pass you up, you’ll go from the picture above to looking like this:

attorney with sign

Okay, maybe that picture is an exaggeration. But let’s get into exactly why you’re much better off putting time into blogging and digital marketing as opposed to the traditional networking events you’re used to.

Networking Events: An Inefficient Use of Your Time

Yes I know, attorneys regularly make contacts and get clients at these events. And that’s true! They certainly do get clients from these events. But it’s not about whether you’re getting clients; we’re worried about the return on investment here. 

In the past, it may have been possible to thrive as a legal professional without worrying about your ROI, but today’s climate is different. Things are moving fast, and if you can’t keep up, you’ll only get left behind. It’s time to start running your firm like the business it is, which means you’ll need to put your resources — including your time — into the things that yield the most returns.

So to illustrate my point, let’s look at the returns from a networking function and compare it to the returns you can see from digital marketing — blogging to be specific.

Blogging vs. Networking Events

Joe Attorney (we all know him) goes to a networking event. He spent forty-five minutes driving there, two hours at the event, and then the forty-five minutes it took to get back to the office. At the event, he rubbed elbows with roughly fifty-five people and met two potential referral sources. Over the next two years, he gets about ten total cases from these resources. During those two years, he has to invest another ten or so hours taking the referral sources to lunch, checking in with them, etc.

When you add all this time up, it comes to roughly 13.5 hours worth of activities that yields 10 cases. Is that profitable? Probably, yeah. 

Is it the most profitable way he could’ve spent his time? Certainly not.

Let’s look at blogging.

To write a blog post, it can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. Let’s assume the high end and go with an hour for each.

That means in the time that Joe spent over the two years, he could’ve instead written 13 blog posts. Now, let’s take a look at some analytics of one of my clients to get an idea of what those blog posts could yield:

Over 12 months, my client’s top thirteen blog posts have generated 6,434 organic clicks from search traffic. Even if we lowballed the price-per-click in a paid traffic campaign at $10, this would be the level of exposure most attorneys would pay $64,340 for.

If we assume that each $1,000 in advertising exposure can generate $5,000 in revenue, those thirteen hours of blogging would yield a total of $321,700 in revenue.

I’m willing to bet that the $321,700 is a better return on thirteen hours than the revenue generated from the ten cases you’d get out of networking.

Prioritizing Blogging & Digital Marketing Over Networking for Law Firms

Networking can be valuable; I understand that.

But at the end of the day, you must prioritize your time well if you want to get ahead. And your time would be much better spent if your main priority is digital marketing rather than more traditional methods.

And if you’ve got extra time & resources afterward? Sure, attend a networking event or two.

But remember, time is a limited resource, so always invest it where it’ll get you the most returns. Most lawyers never even sit down to figure out where their time will get them the most bang for their buck.

When I started my law firm, it was in my living room with a single client in August of 2006. But I updated my blog early and often, and even from the start, only attended a few networking events. In 2010, my revenue was $1,046,695.

Sorry to say, but from experience — I dispute the claim that networking is the most effective way to grow a law firm. Focus on your digital assets instead. Here are a few tips to help you get started with revamping your marketing:

Why do you think that networking events are or are not a good investment of your time? Please let us know in the comments below!