Law firm client retention: give ‘em enough rope…

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Tree with birds flying away

Law firm client retention can be a thorny issue. Now, more than at any other time, holding on to key clients and marketing new services to them is vitally important. Give them too much rope and they’ll be gone.

Let’s look at some basic facts:

  • New client acquisition can cost 15 times more than retaining existing ones.
  • Most lawyers spend their limited business development time chasing new clients.
  • Studies show increasing client retention by 5% can increase profitability by 25%.

So, how do you get the most out of your existing clients?

Structure your firm around your clients.

In testing times such as these, it’s understandable to focus on measuring inputs such as billable hours, work in progress and credit control statistics. Structuring your firm around your clients involves measuring other things. Things such as client satisfaction, successful matter outcomes and retention rates – not to mention cross selling levels.

The starting point for this is a client feedback programme. It’s a mechanism that allows you to get feedback on your performance directly from the horse’s mouth. Armed with that, you’ll learn what clients really want and value and be able to modify your approach to client handling, both learning from mistakes and systematising what you do well.

Strangely, so few firms are currently doing client feedback interviews that they still count as something that will differentiate you from your competitors.

Develop a “Client Journey”.

The client journey map is a proven marketing technique used in many industries and another source of competitive advantage. It comprises five stages: entice, enter, engage, exit and extend. The first three are down to your marketing and client care systems. The latter two should work together. That will allow you to develop potential for further business by both setting and meeting client expectations and then keeping them engaged.

Clients expect their legal advisors to deliver a service that is proactive, personalised and seamless. Planning your client journey via systems and internal protocols used by all who make client contact is vital to achieve this.

Use the tools you already have.

law firm client retention: man on rope

If you use practice management software in your business, take a look at what else it can do to help you retain and develop clients.

At the very least the software should contain modules such as:

CRM is there to enable you to make contact with clients en masse – either by email, mail or other means. It can be used to send newsletters and updates to specific client groups.

Above all, it’s the mechanism for keeping in touch and providing useful information and advice that will assist in generating repeat and return business. Put it to good use and it will pay dividends.

To find out how practice management software can help your law firm client retention, contact us on 0345 2020 578 or

Mike O’Donnell, June 2021.

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