Whether your own your own law firm or work for someone else, your ability to generate leads and sign new clients will be the difference between a survival-based career and a fulfilling, thriving business. While you need to be aware of the hours that you bill and the services you provide, without a steady stream of clients, your business will die.
How to Get New Clients for a Law Firm Without Spending Tons of Money
You've probably seen the advertisements for attorneys on huge billboards and primetime commercial spots, but depending on the ethics regulations in your state and your available budget, these options may not be feasible. How then, can you generate new business without laying out a ton of money?
Be Connected With Everyone You Meet
Being an attorney is as much about mindset as it is about practicing law. Do you view networking as a necessary evil or as a chance to meet new friends? Everyone you come into contact with is a potential client. You never know when someone you've already met will have a need for your services. Whether you recognize it or not, you already have an elaborate network surrounding you. This could include:
- Friends and family
- The teachers or other parents at your children's school
- Workers at the supermarket, library, post office, etc.
- Your doctor's office staff (and even your doctor)
Think about all of the people you come into contact with on a daily basis and establish relationships with them. They may not be in a position to hire or help you now, but that doesn't mean they won't be in the future.
Maintain a Contact List
Once you've established a relationship with the contacts you've identified, keep in touch. Create a list of contacts in an email marketing system or a customer relationship manager and notify your network when things in your life change. Have you started a new job? Opened your own law firm? Included another area of law in your practice? Let your contacts know. They may have a need for your services and not even realize that you can help them.
Get Comfortable Talking About Work
Think back to the last time you met someone new. After pleasantries were exchanged, the conversation most likely turned to "So what do you do?"
Did you have a good answer? Learning to communicate your unique selling proposition clearly and concisely is an art... a very important art. One of the best reminders that you can have is a snazzy stock of lawyer business cards just asking to be given out.
Not only do you need to explain what you do, you also need to communicate that you are really good at it. If you don't broadcast your own value, no one will do it for you. If you don't toot your own horn, no one will.
Share Your Knowledge
When you establish yourself as an expert in your field, you position yourself as the go-to person for guidance. This can be through your everyday conversations, blogs, articles, or books you've authored, and through talks you give to organizations or workshops you host, when a potential client is looking for your services, you will already be at the forefront of their mind.
Cultivate Referrals from Your Network
You may have a somewhat limited network (though it's probably larger than you think), but imagine the possibilities when you include your network's network. This mindset shift could take you from a reach of just a few hundred to thousands of people.
Don't be afraid to ask if anyone has a person in their network who may need your services. This can be as simple as sending out a quick email to your contact list saying "I'm looking to expand my practice. Do you have any friends or family who could benefit from my services?"
People are usually happy to help; you just have to tell them how.
We've all experienced the "hit and run networker" who steps in front of you just long enough to rattle off what they do, toss a business card at you, and then flit off to their next victim. Please don't be that guy. When you meet someone, exhibit genuine interest in what they do (not what they can do for you), find a connecting point such as having children in the same grade or you both having the cutest dog on the planet, and when the time is right, you can exchange business cards. When you do give out your business card, make sure it is professional looking and provides the contact information they need to get in touch with you easily.
Develop a Strong and Recognizable Brand
Chances are you've spent at least a day of your life with an attorney's jingle running through your head. Annoying as they may be... they work. You don't have to create a song to bring in business, but you do need to develop a strong brand that helps people identify your company, know what you do, and remember you when your services are eventually needed.
When a person needs help in a specific area of law, they are likely to seek out an expert in that topic. What they are not likely to do is hire the attorney who has 42 "specialties" listed on their business card and says he or she can help everyone.
Find an area you enjoy and narrow your focus to be the go-to attorney in that specialty.
The best way to constantly grow your client list is not to throw large sums of money towards marketing and advertising. Instead, be outgoing, pleasant, memorable, and helpful. Make yourself easy to work with and to refer, and there will always be a steady stream of clients knocking at your door.