24 Feb Will Running for Office Help Your Practice Grow?
Do you want to get involved in politics? Are you concerned that seeking political office might shrink your potential client base? Attorneys are over-represented in elected offices. If there was a negative impact on their ability to make a living, that probably wouldn’t be the case.
There are about 1.3 million attorneys of a US population of about 327 million, or about 0.4%. The National Conference of State Legislatures estimated in 2015 that about 14% of their members were attorneys. All other things being equal, there were about 35 times more lawyers in state legislatures than there should’ve been.
I have a good idea of what local politics entails. Extended family members were involved in local politics in my hometown for more than a hundred years. After college, I worked as a reporter in two small-town radio stations. I worked on local government and political stories practically every day. I also practiced law for 16 years.
There are trade-offs professionally if you get involved in politics:
- You must be a people person, have tremendous patience, and put in a lot of time and effort. The energy invested in your political career won’t be spent practicing law
- You will be meeting and connecting with many people. The more people you know, the more potential clients and referral sources you’ll meet
- To get clients or votes, you’ll need name recognition. Being in the local press, on flyers, mailers, social media campaigns, and public events will result in more people knowing you and what you do
- Your supporters will see you as smart, hardworking, and trustworthy. You couldn’t ask for much more from a marketing campaign. Those voting for the other candidate may not be so charitable
- Depending on where you live, although party affiliation is becoming more important, ideally, local offices shouldn’t have the verbal bomb-throwing that’s becoming more common on the national level. It’s more about name recognition, how many people you know, and how many you can get to the polls
- You may fear your positions may turn off potential clients. That’s possible if there are hot-button issues to be addressed. Your position on local services, spending, and taxes may generate some opposition. Issues like a school building project or a controversial local employer may be problematic. But you’ll mostly deal with milquetoast issues that probably won’t create much love or hate among most of the voters, so I doubt you’ll be losing many possible clients
If you want to make the jump to a statewide office or Congress, that’s a whole different animal. You must put in so much time you might not have any left over for private practice. If elected you could be a “rainmaker” who brings in clients for others to work on.
I wouldn’t advise anyone to get involved in politics just to get more clients. It’s too much work and takes too much time, energy, and resources that can’t be used for your practice. But if it’s something you’re motivated to do, give it a try. Make the most of it when it comes to developing potential future clients. God knows we need all the honest, hardworking, open-minded people we can get into public service. Maybe you’re one of them.
Whether you decide to run for office, you’ll need help telling your story and getting the word out about you and your work. If you want help, contact me. You have better things to do than write marketing material and website content. I don’t.