Your success in client development depends on you identifying which marketing activities are right for you, based on your particular strengths, interests, and practice area.
This outline addresses a number of common questions I have heard from attorneys over the years:
The steps below will enhance your development and performance as a lawyer, giving you greater career satisfaction, relieve stress, and improve your outlook on life and the profession.
Fortunately, you don’t need to build your plan from scratch. Our law firm experienced consistent annual growth by using the Traction EOS system to identify our goals and keep our attention on them.
In this outline, the first two steps help you apply Traction EOS concepts to your practice. Once you have that foundation, the subsequent steps will help you build your practice and become a leader in your niche.
One book, Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, by Gino Wickman gives you a simple process for identifying your unique vision for your practice:
This book is written for small business owners. The concepts are equally important to a solo attorney, a partner growing a law practice, and small law firms.
Only two types of people should get your attention in marketing:
Referral sources are long-term relationships you can build.
Clients can typically be categorized as relational clients (long term clients with multiple matters) or transactional clients (clients who hire you for a single matter). For example, relationship clients would include corporate clients and others with multiple legal needs over many years. Transactional clients would include a bankruptcy, DWI, or personal injury client.
For relationship clients, help them be successful and invest in the relationship over time. For transactional clients, focus on either building relationships with referral sources (i.e. who would your potential clients tell about their problem?) or using marketing channels (e.g. online marketing) that are present where your potential clients are seeking help.
One DWI attorney felt dismayed. “DWI clients come in every shape and size,” he said. “The only thing they have in common is that they all drink and drive.” He knew he could do traditional paid advertising like the Yellow Pages or online marketing, but he felt there was no way to pinpoint referral sources or marketing channels that were not already saturated.
However, other DWI attorneys found riches in unique niches. One DWI attorney got most of his clients from tow truck drivers who handed out the attorney’s business card when called to tow away the vehicle at an arrest scene. Another DWI attorney got his referrals from a bartender who handed out the attorney’s business card when patrons told of their recent legal problems. Another DWI attorney made sure he or his staff had a repetitive presence where drinkers congregate, like softball leagues, rock concerts, and festivals. Another DWI attorney gave everyone a list of their rights if arrested, including his contact information and a reminder to “keep this in your car.”
Share your best ideas
Before your potential clients will invest money with you, they must know you can solve their problems by either
Do not withhold your expertise. People need a sample before they will buy (unless you were referred by a trusted source).
This is great news for introverts. Thought leadership involves marketing through introverted activities like writing articles, social media posts, and emails.
When you meet with potential clients or existing clients, focus on them, not the law. The time for showcasing your thought-leadership is before clients come to you. When they do, they want you to listen to them and share your strategy to solve their problem. They don’t want you pontificating about the law, listening to yourself speak, building your ego. Similarly, if knowing your credentials are important to a potential clients, you can avoid the need to toot your own horn when speaking with them by having your staff give out your bio sheet before you first meet.
Clients hire attorneys who
This means you should listen 80% of the time, asking questions to gather the information you need to articulate a strategy. Then discuss your strategy for solving the client’s problems.
At the end of your first client meeting, estimate the costs of solving the problems, and ask if that aligns with his/her expectations. If not, the feedback will give you an opportunity to determine whether less expensive alternatives are available or whether you simply are not the right fit. You are not the right fit if a potential client will not pay the fees required to achieve his/her goals.
Think about every “touch point” where a client interfaces with your practice and consider whether there is a way to improve your client’s experience in that part. Perhaps an example would be helpful:
A referral source tells Jane, a potential client, she should contact you.
Continue this exercise through the attorney meeting, payment, communications during representation, the conclusion of representation, and follow-up communications. Continually ask
These questions can help you think creatively, expanding beyond your traditional quality of service. When this brainstorming exercise is complete, identify which ideas you want to apply in your practice.
When our law firm did this, in our reception area alone we found problems:
All attorneys were trained in law school using an approach like IRAC: Issue, Rule, Analysis/Application, Conclusion. That is, identify the legal issues, identify the relevant rule of law, analyze by applying the rule of law to the facts, and conclude. This works in the controlled universe of law school, but real clients require more: problem solving.
Too many attorneys listen in the client’s first meeting and then go into IRAC mode. Before you do, as clients about their big picture goals. Understand what they want to accomplish. Many clients are not rational, thinking solely about resolution of legal issues. They have a host of emotions and other issues, and by you knowing them, you can
Over time, you can become a resource for all of the problems your client is facing.
Perhaps an example best illustrates this. One immigration attorney meets with a client, discusses the visa immigration issues, and prepares a plan for resolution.
A better immigration attorney does all of that, but also
As another example, some business attorneys recognize the importance of understanding business strategy, not just being legal technicians.
It goes without saying that the attorney who helps the client solve the whole problem, not just the legal issue, will
The best marketing tactics for you will probably be new to your niche, either
Here is a collections of marketing ideas to consider: ABA’s 50 simple ways you can market your practice. Identify which concepts apply to your practice by comparing them to your VTO.
Most attorneys have a website. As the firm grows, it increasingly has a need to
This is usually accomplished through a content management system (CRM). WordPress is the most popular CRM for small law firm websites because it is easy to update and the cost is reasonable:
As WordPress has grown in popularity, hacker attacks have increased, requiring firms to schedule routine backups and frequently apply security updates to protect their website. To address this problem, alternatives like SquareSpace.com provide a hosted service with features similar to WordPress, alleviating the need to manage the security and backups of your site. Companies like WPengine.com will manage the security and backups of your WordPress site while providing excellent speed and reliability, but the cost can be substantial.
We have a WordPress site hosted at WPEngine.com. If we were to start a website from scratch today, we would use SquareSpace.com.
This was written by Aaron Hall, CEO and attorney at JUX Law Firm