Bringing in new business for law firms can be difficult at times. Some solicitors seem to have the knack. Others are not so sure-footed when it comes to bringing home the bagels.
So, what sets the rainmakers apart? There’s no single technique. They use a combination of different ones encompassing both direct and indirect methods. Of course, this must be allied with the confidence to ask in the first place. Getting over your reluctance to do this is the first hurdle to overcome.
Once you have done that, you can divide up your activities into five areas:
- Client care.
- Media coverage.
It’s always easier to start with the low hanging fruit. Clients for whom you have previously done work know you. They have a bond of trust with you and are highly likely to provide you with new work in different legal areas. If you’ve completed a house conveyancing transaction for a client, you should move on to arranging their will at the very least.
Here are the first few hints and tips for making the best use of client care techniques.
Client care checklist
- Visit clients off-the-clock to find out what issues are of concern to them. Let them know how you can help with the problems. They will appreciate that you went the extra mile without billing them.
- Be there when clients experience life-changing events. Go to weddings, birthday parties, or funerals, and don’t talk business at any point during those big life events.
- …And if you don’t get invited to those events, send a card or phone your client on those occasions to let them know you care.
- Contact inactive clients with tips on how to grow or manage their businesses.
- Take clients out occasionally to events like a theatre show, a football match or a golf day to cement your relationship with them.
- Visit clients at their offices. Do this while off-the-clock and don’t go empty-handed. Everyone will appreciate your presence when armed with a gift that puts them in a good mood. It also makes them more open to chatting.
- Send handwritten cards to keep in touch with people. If you send out a mass mailer, most people will throw it away; if you make an effort to personalize the message, clients and colleagues will appreciate it.
- Where appropriate, nominate your clients and colleagues for suitable awards in their field and let them know you did it.
Even for existing clients, this may sound very time-consuming and an ordeal to manage. It’s not. If you have a CRM module or a Strongroom module in your practice management software, updates on key dates, birthdays, the age of a will etc. will be provided to you. Failing that, your diary is your updating mechanism.
This doesn’t mean you have to become the next go-to expert for the national media. Local media are just as valid and can be a great source of new business.
- Keep abreast of the local news to see if there are people who may be in need of your help and get in touch with them.
- Develop a relationship with journalists so that they quote you as a legal expert in breaking news stories.
- Write the odd article and see if you can get it published in industry trade journals or in mainstream publications to brand yourself as an expert in your field.
- Make yourself available as a legal commentator for local TV and radio. Because of the 24-hour news cycle, channels are in need of legal experts who can offer insightful and interesting opinions on breaking stories.
There are many instances of solicitors making good use of media to promote themselves and generate new business – perhaps the most well-known being Nick Freeman.
What on earth is networking? It’s not just attendance at free junkets, but this umbrella term does cover a multitude of sins.
Attending events is all well and good but go with an objective in mind. The important thing to remember is to come back from them with something you didn’t have before – even if that is only a slightly raised profile.
So, what can you do?…
- Give a talk to an industry group or a local chamber of commerce. This will advertise your professional knowledge and could also lead to future referrals.
- Become active in legal organisations to meet other solicitors and get your name out there. Not every solicitor has your specialisation.
- Sponsor a local charity event where potential clients may see your company name.
- Organise your own mini-networking events with clients and other contacts.
- When you attend networking events make sure you follow up your contacts with a phone call or a face-to-face meeting.
- Join a non-legal organisation such as a charity or sports club. You’ll expand your network and have fun in the process.
- Act as the introducer or greeter at business receptions so that you can introduce yourself to everyone in attendance.
- Buy individual seats at events instead of an entire table. This way, you and your colleagues can spread out and meet more people.
One guiding rule: you’ll get more out of events you organise yourself than you will by attending those run by others.
When it comes to new business for law firms, online is the key place. Your shopfront is no longer physical. It’s virtual. Your online presence has replaced it. It’s not just your website. There are many channels within online:
- If your website doesn’t have a blog, it’s probably not being updated – Google doesn’t like that! Write a professional blog about legal news or issues that affect your clients and link it to your company website.
- Send out a monthly newsletter to industry contacts, clients and the press that provides news and commentary on legal matters important to your clients.
- Keep your law firm biography up-to-date. That’s often the most-read part of the company website and is a big part of a potential client’s decision-making process on whether or not to hire you.
- Use social media to broadcast your firm’s news, views and blog posts. Modern clients want to know more about the people who represent them. Plus, news outlets now use social media to obtain direct quotes.
- Write an endorsement for clients and your friends on LinkedIn.
- Make your website as organized and informative as possible with contact details prominent on all pages. Remember, if your site doesn’t look great, the prospective client is one click away from your competitors.
Of all the five areas covered in this article, this one is perhaps the most important. If your shopfront looks good, business will follow.
Of all sources of new business for law firms, this is probably the most satisfying. Most people who receive good service will tell a handful of their contacts. However, don’t forget that those who receive poor service will tell upwards of twenty!
A referral means you have done a good job for someone and they have passed on the message. It’s almost free publicity as well as new business.
So, how do you go about sowing the seeds?
- Have lunch or breakfast with non-legal referral sources – regularly. While it may not seem fruitful for business on the surface, you never know who knows who or who’ll need your services in the future.
- Introduce clients or friends to professionals or people with similar interests. When you bring people together, they’ll like and remember you. One day, they’ll return the favour.
- Occasionally make time to meet up with your work colleagues informally. They have clients who may need your expertise too.
- After you finish a case for a client, ask them to refer you to others in the future. Most people will refer you anyway for doing a good job, but letting clients know you would like a referral helps them not forget about you.
Well, that’s 8+4+8+6+4 = 30 new business for law firms tips. Perhaps you may feel out of your comfort zone using some of them. However, the more you do, the more accomplished a rainmaker you will become.