Lawyers should strategically use content to signal to clients and referral sources the kinds of legal matters they want to handle
The legend of Babe Ruth’s called shot has transcended sports for almost a century. But his called shot provides a lesson for lawyers and law firms looking to break into new practices or niches.
The legend of Babe Ruth’s called shot
The story goes that during the third game of the 1932 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Chicago Cubs, which took place on October 1, 1932, in Wrigley Field, Babe Ruth was getting heckled.
The hecklers might have been Chicago fans sitting in the stands. They might have been Cubs players sitting in the dugout. They might have been Cubs players on the field.
Whoever they were, they were apparently getting under Babe Ruth’s skin. The tension was particular high during his at-bat in the top of the fifth inning.
During his at-bat, he started exchanging words with Cubs players. After the first strike in his at-bat, a called strike, he exchanged more words with Cubs players and held up a single finger to the Cubs’ dugout.
After taking two balls, another strike was called. He then pointed with his right hand to someone or something. Maybe it was the Cubs’ pitcher. Maybe it was the Cubs’ dugout. Or maybe it was the flagpole beyond center field.
That gesture would soon go down in history.
That’s because on the very next pitch, Babe Ruth hit a home run so far that it landed outside the stadium. The legend of his called shot was born.
There are a number of accounts of what happened that day. Since the event happened before every baseball game was televised with the help of numerous cameras, and before the fans sitting in the stands had cameras in their pockets practically as powerful as those used by the professionals filming the games, no one knows quite for sure what happened.
In February 2014, the New York Post reported on a book that seemed to debunk the legend of Babe Ruth’s called shot.
In February 2020, Major League Baseball looked at Babe Ruth’s called shot and concluded that while Ruth definitely gestured, it was not clear what he was indicating through that gesture.
But in October 2020, Major League Baseball reported that an author working on a book about Lou Gehrig, one of Ruth’s teammates, found audio of an interview Gehrig gave in 1932 that confirmed Ruth called his shot.
The key lesson lawyers and law firms can learn from Babe Ruth’s called shot
I know what you’re thinking.
“What the hell does Babe Ruth’s called shot have to do with lawyers and law firms?”
A lot, actually. Lawyers can use marketing and business development content, like thought-leadership content, to call their shots like Babe Ruth.
They can use the content they create to begin directing their legal practice toward a new practice, a niche within their current practice, or toward a new audience they didn’t previously target.
By crafting content that strategically focuses on certain aspects of that new legal practice or niche, or that focuses on issues relevant to that new target audience, lawyers and law firms can call their shots like Babe Ruth and show past, current, and prospective clients and referral sources the (new) kinds of legal matters they are handling or want to be handling.
For example, let’s say you are a white-collar criminal litigator with a general white-collar criminal legal practice. But you want to handle cryptocurrency fraud cases. Or federal bribery cases.
If you start writing blog posts and articles about cryptocurrency fraud or federal bribery cases, or about actions by federal agencies that touch on cryptocurrency fraud or federal bribery cases, clients and referral sources will begin to see you as someone who is knowledgeable in those fields and who must be actively practicing in those fields. After all, why else would you be writing content about these fields if you weren’t actively practicing in them?!
With that recognition will come opportunities to work on client matters in those fields. And those opportunities will bring with them more knowledge you will be able convey through your blog posts and articles that may boost your standing as a “go-to” lawyer in one of those fields.
An efficient and effective way to announce to the world the legal practice you’re striving to build
Using content to call your shot and direct your legal practice is more efficient and effective than other methods lawyers and law firms might use to announce new practices or new niches within their current practices.
You won’t need to take out ads in bar association publications. Or send out drab postcards or fliers announcing the change. Or send a blast email that provides no value to its recipients.
For the same cost you already incur (in time, money, or both) when you write blog posts and articles, you will be able to tell the world about the direction your practice is going. The valuable insights you will consistently provide about your changing practice area are more likely to be consumed and absorbed by your target audience than ads or sales materials.
The people consuming your content will begin to notice your consistent focus on your new practice. They’ll start to think, “Hmm. I guess [insert your name here] is handling [insert new practice area here] cases now. They really seem to be on top of developments in that area. I should keep them in mind if I’ve got any questions about [that new practice area].
Call your shot like Babe Ruth
Just like Babe Ruth called his shot in game three of the 1932 World Series, lawyers and law firms can do the same.
They can call their shots by showing clients and referral sources, by way of the knowledge and wisdom they’re dispensing through their blogs, articles, and other pieces of content, where their legal practices are and where they might be heading.
But unlike what happened in 1932, there will be much less controversy when lawyers and law firms use content to figuratively point to where they want their practices to go—and to help them get there.
Wayne Pollock, a former Am Law 50 senior litigation associate, is the founder of Copo Strategies, a legal services and communications firm, and the Law Firm Editorial Service, a content strategy and ghostwriting service for lawyers and their law firms. The Law Firm Editorial Service sets free the knowledge and wisdom trapped inside Big Law and boutique law firm partners by collaborating with them to strategize and ethically ghostwrite book-of-business-building marketing and business development content.
Thinking about bringing on an outside writer to help you call your shot with content? Click here to schedule a 30-minute Content Strategy Audit to learn if collaborating with an outside writer is the right move for you and your firm.