When Should Retiring Attorneys Wind Down Their Legal Marketing?

Online legal content marketing is a reliable, proven way to attract potential clients to your law firm and convert them into paying clients. However, the dividends do not happen, overnight. Law firms have to invest in content marketing over the long term to see the benefits.

This raises an important question: If you’re winding down your law firm, what do you do with your legal marketing efforts?

Closing Firms Need No Marketing

Not all law firms will be in continuous practice for more than 225 years. Most of them close their doors at some point. Especially for solo lawyers and small practices that were not quite able to establish themselves as an industry-leading name worthy of saving, that time often comes when the founding attorney retires.

Obviously, law firms that have shut down need no marketing.

But we are of the opinion that law firms that are shutting down can also begin to decrease the volume of their online advertising. That’s right: We think that firms can safely start to progressively cut back on their online marketing budget well before they shut their doors.

Does this opinion hurt our bottom line? Absolutely. We’re telling our clients to stop paying us, because they won’t benefit from our services.

Are we standing by this opinion, anyway? Absolutely. We want to help our clients effectively market themselves, online. That includes helping our clients understand when to stop.

Ride the Latent Marketing Momentum Into the Sunset

Just like it takes some time for your website’s content to gain a reputation with readers and search engines, it also takes some time for it to fall out of favor. While it’s impossible to say exactly how long this takes – even if it were possible, search engine algorithms change so often that the answer would change soon, anyway – we regularly see stale websites holding on to their rankings for over a year.

Lawyers who are considering retirement and who have invested in online marketing can use this latent momentum. If the website continues to perform at status quo levels for several months before slowly dropping off, adding more content to it right up to the day of retirement would be an investment that did not return any benefits until well after the shop was closed.

Instead, outgoing lawyers should aim to end the firm right when their website begins to fail to produce. It’s like driving a car up to a stop sign. You can keep your foot on the gas and then slam the brakes to stop before the line, but then you wouldn’t reap the benefits of all of that momentum that you built up.

A better alternative would be to take your foot off the gas early enough that by the time you reached the stop sign, you’ll have already slowed way down. It’s just more efficient.

stop sign in sunset

Timing is Tricky

So when should attorneys take their foot off the gas? The answer is tricky. There are numerous factors that should be taken into consideration, like:

  • The attorney’s practice area
  • How competitive the field is
  • How long the attorney’s website has been building steam
  • The retiring lawyer’s timeline and expectations
  • Whether any other competing firms have increased their marketing efforts recently

The more competitive the field, the quicker the departing firm is going to lose its rankings. If the retiring lawyer wants business to remain steady right up until retirement day, they’ll have to fund their online marketing venture longer.

Regardless, lowering the volume is better than pulling the plug, here. This means reducing the firm’s online marketing budget gradually over a few months, rather than killing it in a single pull. This may elongate the potency of the law firm’s site. It can make the eventual decline less steep and sudden, so the attorney isn’t blindsided with a sharp drop in online leads.