If you’re a lawyer working with a private practice, you need to be aware that you’re in a business that relies on sales. For you to expand your network and become successful, your client base plays a key role. So, how does one create and expand their client pool?
What makes a successful lawyer?
Besides the most obvious answer that involves winning court cases, there are other factors that decide if you’re a successful lawyer or not. More often than not, successful lawyers are defined as people who have become the masters of arts like marketing, client development skills, and rainmaking. Unsuccessful lawyers don’t pose too much importance on these aspects, relying solely on their skill at law practices. However, it cannot be stressed hard enough how important it is to hone your skills as well as market your business well.
In today’s dog-eat-dog world, marketing has become a mandate if you want to survive, especially if you’re in private practice. Practicing law is in itself a business, and your business won’t flourish if you’re unwilling to market it. Creating a client base is your form of sales, and the only way to reach out to people is through marketing.
If you are unwilling to learn how to market your practice, then it would be wiser for you to find a job with the government or a large corporation where marketing isn’t as necessary as with private practices. However, even in these organizations, if you’re a junior associate, you don’t really need to do much marketing, but as you climb the ladder, you are expected to rope in clients. When you reach partner level, your client base and receivable help support your job security.
Even if you became partner at one of these large firms and decide to move to another firm, one of the first questions you will face from a prospective employer is how much you have in portable legal business. If you’ve not marketed your business or your services earlier, unfortunately, the answer to that question will not impress your interviewer. They may also ask you if you’d taken a marketing class while at law school.
Even if no courses were offered and you didn’t study marketing, you’re still expected to bring business. So, what is the solution to these issues? Well, simply put, you have to step out there and market your business. Every company in almost all categories of business has to market itself. Once you’ve reached the pinnacle of your business, you can let your services speak for themselves. When you’ve achieved unshakeable success, your clients will do the marketing for you.
How do you market your firm?
During the initial years at least, you will have to foray into the industry and make a name for yourself. Once you’ve built a reputation for yourself, you’d be surprised as to how much your clients will add to your marketing strategies, even if it was through word of mouth. Like good doctors, a client will always recommend a successful lawyer. And this can be one of the best things to happen to your business. However, you never count your chickens before they hatch, so it is important that you market your practice yourself. Here are some pointers on how you can market your firm.
- Keep yourself abreast of the general principles of marketing. A vast majority of lawyers have no idea on marketing their practices effectively, so it is important that you’re aware of at least the general principles.
- You can customize these principles to suit your practice and you personally. When you’re marketing, you need to be succinct about your area of practice and how much business you have.
- Once you’ve customized these marketing principles, create a written plan. Set out clear marketing goals for yourself along with specific action steps that will take you to each goal. Don’t forget to follow a timeline that will help complete each step.
- After you’ve created the plan, make sure that you follow it consistently. Most people find it tempting to not market when they have plenty of business, but don’t let this fool you. Some aspects of legal marketing that involves networking will require you to invest a lot of time for you to develop prospects, so consistency is key.
Important points to keep in mind about legal marketing
Before you decide to finally start marketing your legal business, there are some things that you need to consider and mull over. They are:
- Your current place in marketing your legal practice. If you’re working with a firm, how much business can you take with you in case you parted ways?
- The marketing tools and resources you should implement and use. Whatever tools you use, be it networking, writing articles, speaking, joining legal associations, etc., make sure they are suitable for you. If they aren’t, it can become very difficult to be consistent.
- A detailed written marketing plan is very essential. When you’re creating the plan, make sure you’re clear about your ideal legal practice, how much money do you expect, and how much time are you willing to dedicate to each area of practice. You also need to be clear and specific about who your ideal client should be.
- Another important factor is following your marketing plan consistently without fail. You need to make client development an integral part of your legal practice.
Through effective legal marketing, you can build your legal practice, boost your career, become a successful lawyer, and also create a balance in your personal and professional lives.
What are some effective legal marketing techniques?
A larger number of lawyers don’t get to expand their client base because they fail to do the right amount of business development activities. To reach out and create a good client base, you need to market your legal business effectively. Here are some techniques that you can follow:
- The most important technique you should follow is creating the right infrastructure for your firm’s virtual and online presence. You have several websites like LawLytics that are easy to use and offer great support. These websites keep you informed on what works, so you can make informed choices on your marketing activities. You should also be prepared to spend some money for legal marketing services.
- The second step is ensuring that your website contains high quality content in the form of written material and/or videos. When you get the written content right, most of everything else will come in place. If you upload substandard content, your results will be not as optimal as expected. Organizing this content also matters as you wouldn’t want your website to be unappealing. You could also insert other forms of content like info-graphics, white papers, etc. and plan them to be in collaboration with your existing written content.
- It is imperative that you shouldn’t waste any money on marketing services that cannot be measured. You need to know if your marketing strategies are succeeding, and if they’re not, you need to trim the edges and stop wasting money on things that aren’t helping you. Monitor website traffic, the number of hits your videos get, etc. These will help measure if your techniques are being fruitful or not.
- When you’re starting out, make sure you start small, that is with your own clients. These are people who already trust and rely on you. Spend more time getting to know them so you can learn if you can generate more clients through them. A referral from a satisfied client is one of the best things that could happen to your firm.
- Once you’ve built a rapport with your existing clients, it’s time to cultivate referral sources. Inform your current clients that you’re looking for new work, so they’re aware that they can send you referrals. You could also interact with people who are not your clients like accountants, bankers, friends and family even, who could send you new work.
- Join a trade association and try to get on its board of directors. This will put you in an environment full of people who could potentially require your services. And people they know could also be potential clients.
- Once you’ve completed these steps, you can start pursuing target clients directly. You could contact neighbors, friends, people you socialize with at events like charities or even at your child’s soccer game. Remember, never give up the opportunity to market. Just make sure you’re not harassing them.
- Make sure all your plans are written down. This makes them real and permanent and do-able.
- Plot out how much time you’re willing to dedicate to business development. Most attorneys and lawyers usually put in 200 hours a year, which comes to a mere four hours a week when you break it down. This should involve all your marketing. Meetings, coffees, dinners, social events, meeting referral sources, etc. should be taken care of during these hours.
- Finally, always make sure you’re tracking your results. This way you can identify what works for you and what doesn’t, so you can eliminate the dead weight.
What are some good resources you could use for effective legal marketing?
When you start marketing your legal services, you would come across some challenges. The biggest hurdle is figuring out what you need to do and complete it in the right amount of time. Fortunately, there is a large pool of resources that you can tap into when you’re looking to effectively market your legal firm. Here are some of them:
- American Bar Association (ABA): One of the best resources for the legal community. This website gives you access to national as well as state advertising norms and information on management development programs.
- Association of Legal Administrators: This website delivers leadership and management products and services that cater to the global legal community.
- CEOExpress: This website connects you to major business magazines and newspapers and search engines.
- E-Law Forum: This corporate counsel website helps you locate and secure legal counsel and also gives you the opportunity to rope in new clients through your specialized expertise.
- FindLaw Directory: As the name suggests, this is a directory that contains the names and contact details of numerous lawyers and law firms.
- Law Marketing Portal: If you’re looking for legal marketing services, this is the website for you. It also gives you the latest news in law marketing and technology.
- Hoovers Online: This website contains a vast amount of information on business and market research.
- com: Here, you can find information and new regarding the legal industry.
- Legal Market Association: This online community hosts leaders from all over the legal industry and offers you programs and services that will help boost your career.
- Legal Ethics: This is the central resources for information on legal ethics.
- Martindale Hubbell: This directory helps you locate an attorney or lawyer through its searchable directory.
- NetB2B: This website and magazine caters to the marketing industry and offers you countless e-commerce strategies.
- NetLawTools: This website is great for internet marketing. You have access to several resources, including law firm websites.
Now that you understand the important of marketing your legal firm, make use of these resources that can help you expand your client base while you climb the ladder to legal success. Staying stagnant will hinder your firm’s growth and keep you staying as the underdog in the legal industry, which is one of the most cutthroat industries around. Create a suitable marketing plan and follow through with it as you put yourself out there and go the extra mile to make sure that your firm is being noticed and watch as clients come pouring in.