Laura Symes* We recently published an article in LawFuel about how to get clients to a law firm and one response to the article made some key points about the need for lawyers to also be aware of factors other than just matters like getting their website set up perfectly and listing on directories.
We covered a lot more than just those issues, of course, but there are other more ‘holistic’ issues relating to bringing in business to a law firm that lawyers need to know.
Building new business for a law firm requires retaining and building on networks and other people as much as using great law firm SEO and digital marketing tools
Our correspondent noted that one of the best business development tools in the lawyer’s arsenal is simply recognizing that anyone they meet could be a client.
As our correspondent said, “never underestimate or try and size up someone you meet because they will never be your client. I made that mistake once never again. My under-estimated ‘potential client’ because the Chief Legal Counsel of a Fortune 200 company. And I have seen too many lawyers make assumptions about who may or who may not be a client and treating them poorly.”
There are plenty of blue collar sons and daughters who go on to Harvard Law School and graduate to become senior executives and lawyers in major corporates, NGOs, government agencies and elsewhere.
Regardless of what sort of legal practice you have, Big Law or solo lawyer, bringing in business to a law firm from prospective clients is more than simply optimizing for search engines. It’s optimizing for people you meet by not underestimating them.
It’s a simple courtesy matter to be nice, but remember that no matter how lowly or service-focussed the person may be – your auto mechanic or insurance salesman – they or their friends, relatives or offspring could literally make your career. Legal services come in many forms and from many different people.
New business comes in many forms also and it is people contact and being remembered as a decent person who also happens to practice law that can lead to major opportunity.
1.Remember Your Classmates
A second major source of business is from your peers at college and law school. These are people you need to remain in contact with people who become a significant business owner, manager, legal counsel, a thought leader or CEO.
Retaining a strong contact with your peer group is one of the best ways to generate new business for your own law firm without having to ‘market’ in any conventional way. This is generally work that will come through the personal rather than the marketing contact and works on another level from the conventional marketing strategies outlined in features like our (excellent) law firm marketing guide.
Potentially spectacular business growth can come from any of these connections.
2.Remember Your Workplace Peers
Another massive source of business and new clients can come from those people with whom you have worked. They should never be under-estimated and as career trajectories take off and alter direction they can take those people in any number of directions, many of which can provide major business, referral sources, new practice areas, positive reviews and any number of other advantages.
These are people who know you and know what work you do and what you are capable of. By retaining contacts and enhancing your network with these people you are also using marketing skills (apart from simply retaining good people in your life) that can repay you a thousand times in terms of additional work.
Don’t burn your bridges when people leave, or when you leave a job. Keep up the contacts.
3.Remember Your Employers and Others
Just as you need to keep in mind those people you have been to college with and worked with, so too you should keep in mind those people who you have worked under.
Once more, these are people who know your work and can provide great work in future, whether they remain with the firm or business where you first became acquainted or not. Legal business is an ever-changing field, just as lawyers too change their work focus, their workplace and work habits.
By keeping in contact with these people you are retaining key people who can make a major difference to your law practice.
4.Keep Excited and Passionate
It may seem trite, but by keeping an element of excitement about your areas of law practice you are also not just letting people know what you do – but also adding that x-factor that can see you acting as a person with genuine passion about what you do.
That leads to others who recognize the expertise, the excitement, the passion – and it can translate into a lot of lawyers understanding that you are the right person for a job.
Simply retaining the sense of excitement and talking about your work (including the networking events and so forth) will help ‘sell’ your expertise without having to come across like a white-shoed car salesman.
5.Put Yourself Out There
Our law firm marketing guide talked about networking and attending local events and so forth, just as we did on how to get new clients for your firm – but the simple fact is that putting yourself out there by being approachable and friendly, attending events, no matter how large or small, can really help build your expertise and ability to build your law firm business.
Putting yourself onto someone’s radar is something you need to do to build the business.
6.The Referral ‘Trick’
Seeking referrals from clients is an overlooked major way to attract new clients. It may seem difficult, but put the right way by asking existing clients if they knew of anyone who could use your services is a very effective business building tool.
Most clients will be only too happy to consider or action such requests. And the word-of-mouth power of a referral from a friend or business associate is one of the most effective ways you can build up your law firm practice.
The same can apply to lawyer friends. If they practice in different towns, states or even countries they can usually be only too happy to refer on work that they are unable to handle, or are not interested in handling.
Asking for referrals can lead the the development of a thriving law practice and is easy work you can do during any down time. As with most of these often overlooked tactics, it also takes less money than using many other law marketing techniques.
7.Delegate Less Important Work
Any entrepreneur can tell you about the need to delegate in order to grow a business. Logically, your best ability to grow your business will by focusing on what you are good at, rather than spending unproductive time handling routine work that can be delegated.
The growth of ‘new law’ firms and others permit the employment of freelance lawyers, but there are also opportunities using legal technology properly is a great way to streamline your workflows in areas like document management, routine payments and virtual assistants and other technology that can be used to boost productivity without taxing you for your own time.
We wrote here about the 9 Best Law Technology tools to use to build law firm efficiencty and profitability.
Growing a small firm, or any firm that a new lawyer wants to develop is a matter of selected how best to build the practice by smartly using technology and resources.
A case study on the growth of a business can be seen at with this study of Vela Woods, which grew to 14 lawyers and with high annual revenue growth year-on-year.
8.Plan and Execute
By planning your way towards building your law firm business you can execute a winning system as a law firm owner by simply prioritizing and using your ‘smarts’.
It is not all about digital marketing (although social media and technology inevitably play a large part) and search engine optimization, but more about sourcing the best way to build your practice using what you already have.
Keeping and building your networks and using some simple, old style referrals and having a background system of technology to relieve you of the tedium and time-wasting with routine tasks will see you build your personal brand, or law firm brand, as well as your book of business – and an attractive bottom line result.
Author: Laura Symes writes on legal marketing, including social media marketing, web marketing for lawyers and related matters. She has previously written for LawFuel and other publications on law marketing issues and legal marketing strategies best suited to law firms.