You and your partners have worked hard to build a successful practice, and you are now well known within your niche.

The issue now becomes: do we stay local? Or expand nationally? Even if the decision is made to remain a single-office practice, that does not mean that your clientele cannot come from all parts of the U.S. We will discuss how you can ‘expand your footprint’ to become a national brand in the field of law.

Your Practice’s Persona

Can a law practice have a personality? The straightforward answer is ‘yes’. We are not talking about the personalities of the members of your firm, but rather what the firm itself is known for, how it is perceived in public, and what elements have given it that persona. In order to achieve the legal market share you presently enjoy, clients within that market have had to come to associate your firm with the specific legal services they require. In some towns, a person in need of a personal injury lawyer will immediately connect with that billboard they have passed numerous times on the way to work or will recall that your firm obtained a six-figure settlement for a relative or that radio spot they paid little attention to in the past, now becomes quite relevant. In other words, your practice now resonates with the needs of the clients within your market, over and above the recognition of other practitioners.

What It Takes to Go Big—But Stay Local

If you or your partners are not yet poised to expand into another state, but you need to become
‘better recognized’ as the go-to firm in your field, one of the best methods to achieve that expansion is to network for referrals from a variety of connections, including former clients, fellow attorneys,
and the businesses with whom you interact. And that, of course, entails ‘outperforming’ the competition in your area. Many stories have been told of attorneys picking up new clients from ‘the other side of the table’ after a successful real estate closing or commercial business negotiation. It’s not that the other side didn’t appreciate their own attorney’s efforts or representations; it’s just that you and your firm outshined him or her.

Be mindful, however, of the Canon of Ethics  regarding any in-person, telephonic, or electronic solicitation of a prospective client who did not  initiate contact with you or to anyone who has made it known that they  do not  wish  to be solicited for legal  services.

Leaving the Local Nest

Let’s assume that at some  point, your firm does decide to take the practice ‘on the road’, and expand beyond your current location. Obviously, in order for your firm to practice in another state, the attorney(s) practicing there will have to be licensed in that state unless the local rules for pro hac vice representation under a local attorney’s license have been adhered to. That being said, the procedure typically applies in high-profile or high-value cases, where it is impractical for the lawyer in such cases to actually get licensed in each state  where his client’s litigation is filed or transferred to. Nationally known criminal lawyers such as the late F. Lee Bailey  or Johnnie Cochran come to mind, as do contemporary high-profile trial lawyers such as Alan Dershowitz or Robert Kardashian. All of their practices were national in nature, but without having to open up an office and obtain local licensure in each instance. Conversely, a certain ‘nationally known’ Securities Fraud firm started out in New York but now has offices in nine U.S. cities while still specializing in that same niche practice.

Becoming a Brand

Whether expanding locally  or nationally, branding your firm involves either a written or audio message (or both) along with a memorable visual or audio theme that can be a recognizable logo  or an easy-to-remember tagline. Either way, the ready  association between your area of practice and your firm is the goal of branding. In fact, that establishes a level of ‘interaction’ even before the new client has met you in person ( even if you’ve never  bought a Tesla, you certainly know the brand!)

Perhaps your offices are situated in a building that you own, and your local signage regulations permit you to emblazon your firm’s name on your building. If you are an anchor tenant in a ‘trophy
building’, your lease may allow such a prominent display of your firm’s name, visible to all. In addition, promoting your firm’s lawyer personalities by way of promoting attorney profiles serves to build a ‘resume’ for your firm while at the same time putting a personal face on it.

Staying Connected

With today’s high-tech connectivity capabilities, more and more law firms are greatly increasing what was once only local market participation by expanding their practice’s national
and even global footprint. The ease with which this can be accomplished has been clearly demonstrated in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, whereby remote work technology has been advanced across many platforms. The bottom line is that even if you decide to ‘stay local’, ‘think global’, or at least ‘national.’

Executive Summary

The Issue

How to put a national brand association between your firm and the market you serve or want to serve.

The Gravamen

National name-brand status can be achieved even if your firm remains in its customary, locally-stablished offices.

The Path Forward

Expanding your firm’s footprint, whether locally or nationally, will require marketing tools across a wide spectrum of media, both traditional and social media, and making use of expanded networking among colleagues and clients.


1. Practice Assessment:

Conduct a realistic assessment of how your practice has grown and whether it is at the point you targeted for the current year.

2. More to Grow:

If the local market you currently serve allows for further expansion, then your focus should be on increasing branding and recognition at the local level.

3. Expanding Outward:

If your practice has reached the point whereby you are locally saturated and you have the resources-both, financial and human—to open an out-of-state office, then your planning should be in that direction.

4. Client Needs:

Regardless of how successful your practice is locally, if your client demand necessitates ‘going national’, then apply your branding campaign nationwide.

Further Reading

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