Psychologists say that the three things that scare people the most are death, snakes, and public speaking. True for people in general, but attorneys are not people-in-general. Legal training and practice–whether you go to court or not—presumably trains you to overcome the fear of public speaking (alas, not death and snakes).
There are plenty of opportunities for attorneys to speak to groups on legal topics, both within and outside the law. They include:
• Service clubs, like Rotary or Kiwanis.
• Local economic clubs.
• Local bar associations.
• Local trade and professional associations.
• Local community or volunteer organizations.
• For the more polished or accomplished public speakers, or those with special expertise, CLE programs and other bar events offer interesting opportunities to develop a network among your listening audience.
• Larger metropolitan areas are likely to have one or more speakers’ bureaus, organizations that maintain rosters of speakers and attempt to secure paid speaking engagements for them. If you have some area of expertise, you may interest them in putting your name on their roster.
People who have heard you speak, or are co-presenters on some kind of panel, are ideal potential contacts. Therefore, make sure that you know who is on the panel and (if possible) who is in attendance. Sponsoring organizations often maintain records concerning such events.
One of my counseling clients used such appearances and presentations to launch a successful tax controversy practice that netted him $250,000 in his first year.