How to market white-collar criminal defense in a down market

When a practice area goes through a down cycle, smart law firm leaders know how to broaden their menu of services to stay relevant to current clients as well as prospects.

That’s just what is happening in the white-collar criminal defense sector, which in the past two years has seen a “significant drop . . . in both the number of white-collar prosecutions and the scale of corporate fines and penalties.” In addition to promising the best defense attorneys in the business, top-tier firms now offer growing services like internal investigations, health care fraud and Foreign and Corrupt Practices Act compliance and enforcement. Clients are willing to invest in these services, which undoubtedly will save them money if (and when) prosecutions pick back up in the future.

But this wise adaptation to current market conditions will only be effective if clients know about it—that is, if firms create a marketing plan that communicates this new approach to the work. Effective marketing and PR will make an impact on developing business in two ways:

  • New messaging that focuses on their attorneys as nimble and versatile, in addition to reliably great in the courtroom, will help clients see the possibilities for a broader scope to the relationship so that billings will not suffer in this downturn. Spotlighting the specific services available, and demonstrating the impact they have made for clients, is key.

  • White-collar criminal defense attorneys are used to playing the “bad guys” in the media narrative of high-profile cases. But when these groups can market themselves as pro-active partners who help companies comply with the law before anyone has gotten into trouble, they are more likely to be seen as part of the solution than the problem. Casting this work in a more virtuous light will benefit the reputation of the firm overall and drive business in the short and long term.

Changing the way you do business should always trigger a change to the way you communicate about it. When your marketing and communications are integrated into that decision-making process, your clients will always understand what you can do for them—and keep bringing you business.



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