The Foundations of Marketing Yourself: The Elevator Speech


We are pleased to welcome Eleanor Southers back to the blog today. Eleanor is an attorney and the owner of Professional Legal Coaching where she helps young lawyers and law students market themselves in a competitive legal marketplace. She’s also one of the Catapult Conference speakers.

Today she shares with you another foundation of marketing yourself — crafting your elevator speech. Welcome back, Eleanor! 

Exactly what is an elevator speech? It is a one minute response to the question “What do you do?” or “What kind of law do you practice?”

You may need two different versions, one for lay people and one for fellow attorneys.

One of my basic rules is never, ever tell a lay person that you do litigation.

That means nothing to the person on the street. You can say that “Some of my cases may go to court,” but always understand your audience before you put your foot in your mouth.

Focus On What’s Critical to Convey

So taking this mission statement we crafted last time, we can factor out the important information that the attorney would need to get across in one minute. That might be: personal injury, only area that is practiced, not client’s fault, special attention to client’s needs.

Then the lay person elevator speech might be something like:

“I focus my practice on personal injury law. This means that I can help any person injured in an accident which is not their fault. I do this by being responsive to their needs and making sure that they get every benefit owed them under the law. If you have a friend or relative in this situation, you might want to have them to take a look at my website. There is a lot of information there about what to do if you are in an accident.”

Yes, it is good idea to gently ask for what you want right up front. You are not soliciting for business but are telling the person that you can be the go-to attorney to get the correct information.

The attorney elevator speech may then be more like:

“I focus my practice on personal injury law. I’m always looking for ways to give great service. One of those is by limiting my firm to only accidents. In this way I can use my knowledge and contacts to give the greatest assistance while keeping the client’s specific needs in mind. Give me a call if you have any questions.”

This is too early to talk about referrals. It is OK, as you know, in California to have a case referred by another attorney but it can be off-putting to ask for that up front without establishing some kind of relationship.

Using Your New Elevator Speech

So now scenario #2 goes like this: You arrive at the MCLE function early. You mingle with the attorneys there. You might give your elevator speech if it is appropriate but you do ask at least two attorneys you don’t know what kind of law they practice and get their cards. Hopefully you will also give them your card.

Now you sit down. You introduce yourself to the table. You find out what kind of law the other attorneys practice and also get cards if it can be done subtly. You talk a lot with the people sitting on either side of you.

After the presentation is over, you stick around for a few minutes. Introduce yourself to the speaker. Compliment the organizer for having the presentation. Walk an attorney out to the parking lot and either find out about them or give them your elevator speech.

When you get back to your office take out all the cards you collected and put anyone aside that you want to follow up with a phone call or a lunch or coffee invite. Put the rest into your contacts so you can contact them later with your newsletter, announcements, etc.

I promise you that if are this prepared, then your fear of getting noticed will decrease substantially. You may even find it can be a fun experience and in this scenario, you also get a unit of MCLE. Double win!

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Thanks, Eleanor! We can’t wait to see you at Catapult.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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