Essential Strategies for Lawyers on Building Business
For the first several years of practice, lawyers first focus on learning how to perform the job, then on how to get better every day. But eventually as your career progresses, some attention needs to be focused on building business for the firm—whether you are a solo practitioner or part of a large organization. The ability to generate business is crucial for lawyers to succeed in their careers. Tried and true methods like referrals and word-of-mouth recommendations are effective, but there are now many more ways for lawyers to attract new clients and build their business. Here are some of the most effective places lawyers can generate business.
In today's digital age, having an online presence is crucial for any business, including law firms. Lawyers can create websites, social media accounts, and blogs to showcase their expertise, share insights, and connect with potential clients. A well-designed website optimized for search engines can help lawyers attract more clients by improving their visibility in online searches. In addition to creating and maintaining a website, lawyers can benefit from other online sources like legal directories. Listing your firm in several legal directories is an easy way for clients to find you and to compare your services to other lawyers in your area, so make sure to clearly list the services and types of matters you handle.
Word of mouth is still one of the most effective marketing tools out there. If you have satisfied clients, they are more likely to recommend you to others in need of legal services. Make sure your clients know the types of cases and matters you can handle and encourage them to refer you to others who may need your services. Building a positive reputation through client referrals is invaluable, and maintaining relationships with clients takes time and effort. Use the word "we" when discussing your client's problems to foster a sense of collaboration. It's essential to show empathy and understanding when dealing with clients' legal matters. This approach will help build trust and establish a strong relationship between you and your client. And don’t forget to maintain the relationship after your professional involvement is concluded. Maintaining the relationship keeps your name top of mind when it comes time for that former client to refer someone for legal services.
Networking is a critical component of business development for lawyers. Attending conferences, joining bar associations, and participating in industry events are great ways to meet other professionals and build relationships that can lead to new business opportunities. But don’t stop there! Get creative with your networking. Utilize social media like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to build a network by making connections and following up with people. Think outside the proverbial box—if you practice in a certain area, attend trade shows and conventions to meet potential new clients or publish articles or blogs in trade magazines and newsletters. After you have established the traditional networking paths, make a plan to engage in new opportunities throughout the year to keep that network growing.
While advertising for law firms is not without controversy, it can be an effective way to generate new business. Advertising can include everything from print ads in local newspapers to online banner ads and sponsored social media posts. Lawyers should be careful to follow all ethical rules and regulations when advertising, but a well-placed ad can help generate leads and attract new clients. There are many different publications and events that offer sponsorship opportunities, which seem less cringeworthy than traditional advertising methods. The important thing is when you spend your hard-earned cash in advertising is to make sure to have a clear message—the audience needs to remember who you are and what you offer.
Lawyers are busy, we all know this, but getting involved in your community can build your reputation and community confidence in your services. Volunteering, sponsoring events or local sports teams, and supporting local causes are fun, creative ways to get involved in the community. By building a positive reputation in the community, lawyers can attract new clients who value their commitment to making a difference.
Once you decide on how you want to build your business, the next step is personal engagement with potential clients. When pitching yourself and your services to potential clients, here are a few things to keep in mind.
One of the most important things to remember when marketing your law firm is to be yourself. Every individual has their own unique style, so don't try to copy someone else's marketing approach. If you're naturally funny, use humor. If you're empathetic, show that side of yourself. Authenticity is key to building trust and rapport with potential clients. People often need lawyers in stressful moments in their lives, so building a rapport and trust with a client can benefit and strengthen the relationship.
While it's essential to manage your client's expectations, it's equally important not to overpromise. If you can't deliver on your promises, your reputation will suffer, and you may lose potential clients. Instead, be honest and upfront about what you can and can't do. Clients appreciate transparency and honesty. It can be easy to get caught up in the momentum of trying to “win” the client, so lawyers need to manage their own expectations as well. Sometimes saying no to a matter is the best thing you can do for yourself and your future growth.
Managing the Bad Times
Unfortunately, not every case or matter will end well. How you handle the bad times can make all the difference. Be honest with your clients about the potential outcomes and prepare them for all eventualities. Offer them support and guidance through the process and be available to answer any questions or concerns they may have. If you were clear and honest with the client from the start, the eventual outcome can be softened by telling the client knowing the result was a possibility.
Lawyers today have so many options when it comes to generating new business. It’s important to make the time to research and plan how you are going to accomplish building new client relationships. No matter which methods you choose, be sure to evaluate how the endeavor worked out—how much time did it involve, what was the cost, and was it fruitful? The key is to find the strategies that work best for your practice and to remain committed to providing exceptional service to your clients.