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How Should Retired Judges Market Themselves?

From the blog Mediation Marketing Tips

A mediation marketing tips reader posed the following question:

Q “I retired from 27 years on the Superior Court, and it seems unseemly for me to solicit attorneys for business–any ideas?”

A: Ideas yes, lots of them. I think most mediators feel uncomfortable soliciting attorneys for business, retired judge or not. The mediation marketing that I recommend has little if anything to do with solicitation and has everything to do with education. It is what David Frey calls “education based marketing.” It is the type of marketing that lawyers have been doing for years.

Most lawyers also think it’s unseemly to solicit business. Up until the Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional for bar groups to prohibit lawyers from advertising, there was a ban on lawyer advertising. The view was that advertising (which is often linked in the same thought to “marketing”) was beneath the high professional status of lawyers. Marketing and advertising have traditionally been associated with slick used car salesmen. For many who have been around the profession awhile, the words conjure up unprofessional images.

The good news is that the mediation rainmaking approach is all about education and all about positioning yourself as an expert. You shouldn’t feel uncomfortable or that you are soliciting attorneys, or you will not want to engage in business development activities. See my prior post on “why we hate the idea of having to market ourselves.”

An educational, platform building marketing approach involves some of the following steps:

1) Select a market niche in your area to focus on;

2) Position yourself as an expert in your niche and as a conflict resolution or mediation process expert generally;

3) Begin to build trust and credibility with those with whom you would like to work (your target or choice clients within your niche); and

4) Remember to focus your efforts on providing VALUE not on selling.

Strategies for doing the above:

1) Networking — note it’s not solicitation. It is all about relationship building, connecting people and providing them with valuable contacts or information.

2) Write articles for bar journals, lawyer periodicals and other publications that your target market reads.

3) Start a blog.

4) Leverage your articles and blog topics and put together speeches and/or workshops.

5) Offer to give your speech/workshop to groups within your niche. E.g. present a talk on “how to get past impasse in a negotiation and create win-win” or something like that to law firms or bar groups in your area.

A final tip for a retired judge, demonstrate to the lawyers that you have gone through extensive training in the field of mediation and conflict management and that you are committed to taking your new role seriously. Many retired judges have the legal experience, credibility, status and personality to easily transition to a career as a mediator. With a healthy understanding that conflict resolution requires the development of new skills and a new commitment, it can be a great second career for former judges.

Approach business development as an educational process, build on your contacts with the local bar and you will be well on your way. Building a new business requires a high degree of human capital (and other capital) in the beginning, but with education based marketing you can leverage your former position and status to build a great practice. You should feel comfortable with it too.


Managing Editor In business since 1996, is the world’s leading mediation and dispute resolution website with over 7 million annual site visitors. serves as a bridge between professionals offering dispute resolution services and individuals and businesses needing those services. was awarded the 2010 American Bar Association Institutional Problem Solver of… MORE >

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