I witnessed an interesting/sad/eye-opening example of attorney selection last week at Daley that unfortunately probably speaks to the stupid reasons why client's choose lawyers and I suppose should emphasize the importance of client education as part of your marketing.
So here's what happened...
I have a case set for hearing and I'm defending my client in a sort of run-of-the-mill Petition for Rule to Show Cause (asking to find my client in contempt of court) regarding non-payment of child support. This is fairly severe stuff where my client can potentially be jailed for up to six months. Well, the opposing attorney doesn't think that she needs to have her client or any witnesses for that matter to put on the case. Her client's the petitioning party. The case gets called and the judge explains that of course you have to have your client here and the hearing got re-scheduled.
A few minutes later I'm out in the hallway speaking with my client and the other lawyer walks out of the courtroom and quickly followed by a gentleman who had been sitting in the courtroom gallery. He stops the lawyer, introduces himself, asks for a business card and seemingly was interested in possibly having this attorney represent him (granted I don't know if this guy has ended up becoming a client).
But I just found this turn of events fairly jaw-dropping. Here's a lawyer who doesn't even know that a client/witness has to be brought to a hearing to prove her case and then a potential client whom I think was in the courtroom while I and the other attorney were before the judge is actively seeking her out regarding potential representation.
I suppose there are many teaching points from this example...like more than you think client's choose attorneys for totally superficial reasons like physical appearance, but I would emphasize just the importance of client education as part of your marketing efforts. We can't solve consumer ignorance completely but your marketing efforts can educate clients and show potential clients what you know.