I’m excited to be speaking at Avvo’s upcoming Avvocating Conference in Seattle on May 3, reconnecting with friends who are also on the agenda and of course, meeting other solo and small firm lawyers. I’ll be talking about the ways that I’ve used online tools like blogging and social media to build my energy regulatory practice and more importantly, offer practical strategies and ideas on practices that other solo and small firm lawyers can implement while focusing on what’s most important: mastery of one’s practice and serving clients. Although energy regulatory practice isn’t a traditional consumer-oriented practice, I face many of the same hurdles as solo and small firm practitioners such as competition both from larger operations with money to burn on advertising (or in my case, fancy sponsorships and junkets) and non-legal providers (you don’t have to be a lawyer to handle cases before FERC). In addition, in contrast to many consumer lawyers who can often gain referrals from colleagues, in my industry, big firms are a little tight-fisted about referring work so I’ve had to come up with other ways to develop a pipeline.

So why I am speaking at a marketing conference, when I’ve been somewhat critical of marketers in the past, particularly a conference sponsored by Avvo, a site that still evokes controversy in the solo/small firm community? First – and most superficially, I love Seattle and the agenda, comprised of a mixture from the legal and tech community is a little different and seems interesting. Second, while Avvo isn’t perfect, ratings sites are here to stay – something that Avvo presciently recognized a long time ago. If you don’t like Avvo, then don’t use it – but recognize that at some point, you may be rated elsewhere.

Most of all, I feel that it’s important for practicing lawyers to have a presence at marketing events. Don’t get me wrong, Matt Homann and Ari Kaplan (who are both former lawyers) are two of my favorite speakers on the circuit today – they’re so dynamic and are always churning out new ideas or serving up new insights. But they don’t practice law and therefore, have to time that a work-a-day solo may not. Moreover, many new solo and small firm lawyers may not have the cash to hire marketing consultants and it’s also important for them to see that they can build a real practice without them.

Anyway, if you are at the Avvocating Conference I look forward to meeting you. And here’s a link for a $100 discount off the price. Be sure to use the discount code MyShingle.